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Updated 11:00 AM March 1, 2004
 

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Athletics unveils new football seating plan


With an expectation of raising $9.5 million annually for scholarships and capital projects, the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics has unveiled a Preferred Seating Plan for U-M football to be implemented beginning with the 2005 season.

About 45 percent of season ticket holders will be required to give an annual donation to secure their current seat locations in Michigan Stadium under the plan announced today (March 1). The donation is in addition to the cost of game tickets.

"Requiring an annual seat donation for select season ticket locations is common among our peer institutions," says William Martin, the Donald R. Shepherd Director of Intercollegiate Athletics. "Michigan is the only school of the top 20 attendance leaders in college football that has not implemented a preferred seating program."

Martin says the program is critical because the Athletic Department is solely responsible for the educational expenses—including tuition, fees, room, board and books—for more than 700 student-athletes who represent the University in intercollegiate athletic competition. Martin also says the department must upgrade many of its aging facilities, which have not kept pace with the needs of student-athletes.

"The department's reliance on private support increases each year as the cost of education and the resources necessary to maintain a quality athletic program escalate," Martin says. According to the Athletic Department, private giving totaled $3.7 million in 2002-03, trailing Big Ten Conference peers The Ohio State University ($18.7 million), Penn State University ($14.5 million) and Michigan State University ($10 million).

The Preferred Seating Program will be phased in over two seasons, and will require season ticket holders with seats in four different locations—Victors, Valiant, Maize and Blue—to pay half the required contribution (between $60 and $250) to keep their seats for 2005. The donation will increase to its full amount in 2006 ($125-$500).

The affected sections of Michigan Stadium occupy approximately 30 percent of the facility's seats between sections 6 and 40 on the east side of the stadium and 18-25 on the west side.

Season ticket holders who do not wish to participate in the program or want to pay a smaller donation will be relocated to a section that has either a lower required donation or no annual requirement.

"We have spent three years studying this situation," Martin says. "We have reviewed the national landscape and spent a great deal of time talking with our University leaders, alumni, donors and fans. We have heard our fans' concerns about fairness and have carefully assessed our needs and developed a strategic plan that includes facility refurbishment and replacement."

In addition to the preferred seating program, the Athletic Department for the first time will alter its policy on the transfer of season tickets beginning May 1, for a period of one year. Season ticket holders will be allowed to transfer tickets to a family member or friend, in exchange for a contribution of $500 per transferred ticket.

The Athletic Department also is unveiling a Priority Points Program that will help to allocate benefits such as access to better seats, allocation and assignment of away-game tickets, parking permits, bowl tickets and admission to special athletic events.

Details about the Preferred Seating Program can be found at http://www.mgoblue.com/psd.

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