In a letter to football season ticket holders and other supporters of U-M athletics, Martin noted that the department is at a watershed time. Developments such as the addition of 14 sports over the past 30 years, growing scholarship and travel costs, competitive pressures on coaching salaries, and the need for facilities and equipment maintenance and upgrades have caused the departments expenses to grow faster than its revenues.
Although windfalls over the years, such as revenue from extra home games and short-term spikes in licensing royalties, allowed the department to operate in the black, in the past three years it has had operating deficits. And just as disturbing, Martin said, we are facing a growing inability to invest in the future strength of the athletic program, including facilities, coaching and the academic support of our students.
The departments top priority, Martin emphasized, is the athletic development and academic support of its 731 student-athletes. The University aims to compete at the highest level in all 25 mens and womens sports. In 19992000, Michigan ranked third in the Sears Cup, a comprehensive measure of athletic success at all Division 1A universities across all mens and womens sports.
All 25 teams are supported primarily by revenues from mens basketball, football and ice hockey. Other sources of revenue include Big Ten distributions, corporate sponsorships, licensing royalties and private fund raising.
Martin noted that the ticket price increases alone will not solve the departments financial challenges but will be part of a long-term strategic plan. In developing solutions that are unique to Michigan, he said, the department conducted focus groups and fan surveys and will continue its research as additional revenue streams are considered. These could include stadium advertising, enclosed seating and annual seat donations. A significant fund-raising program also is planned.
In addition, Martin pledged to cut costs wherever possible and manage Athletic Department resources efficiently. For example, four administrative staff positions have been eliminated, and the University is working with the Big Ten Conference and the NCAA to find ways to reduce travel and publication costs and bowl game expenses.
The new ticket prices go into effect for football games in fall 2001. Michigan Stadium will be divided into four sections: Victors seats (between the 22-yard lines), Blue (goal line to 22-yard line), Maize (end zones) and Student seats. Season ticket holders will pay $47, $43 and $39 for Victors, Blue and Maize seats, respectively, up from $31 last year.
Student ticket prices will increase from $13.50 to $17.50 per game. Ticket prices for students have not been increased since the 1996 season. The student discount is 55 percent of the lowest season ticket price under the tiered seating plan.
Single tickets will be priced at $51, $47 and $43. The Ohio State game on Nov. 24 has been designated as a premium game, with single ticket prices of $56, $52 and $48. The premium game designation will not affect prices for season tickets.
Season ticket renewal applications will be mailed in April. More information can be found on the Web at www.mgoblue.com/ticket/plan.