Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Students in an Uproar Over Seating Move

Tom Osborne found himself in the middle of his first controversy over the athletic department's plan to move some student football tickets from the lower part of south stadium to the upper part. The move has been long threatened for years, originally by Bill Byrne, in response to complaints that the students were standing on the seats. Finally, it happened.

The plan became more controversial by an inflammatory paragraph in the Daily Nebraskan:
And about 2,000 students in several sections of the front portion of south stadium will be displaced to cheaper seating in the top portion of Memorial Stadium's southeast corner. Season ticket holders who previously sat there will fill the vacated front seats.
Whoa! First, just what is "cheaper seating" at Memorial Stadium? The price of every seat at Memorial Stadium is the same: $52 if it's part of a season ticket package. It doesn't matter if it's on the 50 yard line or in row 98 of the south end zone. Does it refer to required donations to get tickets in those sections? If so, what is the difference in the required donation? That's my question. I don't know the answer, but I'm somewhat skeptical.

Later this afternoon, Osborne came out and said that the athletic department is not charging the fans moving down anything extra.

Putting the financial arguments aside, is this a good move? Probably not, but probably necessary to some extent. The students have been warned about this for years, so in the end, they're ultimately responsible for what happened when they continued to ignore requests to stand in the footwells instead of on top of the seats.

There are some reasonable complaints about the change. College athletics should be about the students, and they shouldn't be relegated to the worst parts of the arena. Students in the end are responsible for much of the atmosphere that makes college athletics so great to attend.

But by that same token, Nebraska's student section pales in comparison to many others. Kansas State's certainly puts the Nebraska students to shame. Will move them up to the top of the end zone hurt the atmosphere? Perhaps...but frankly, much of the time, the students as a group aren't making much of an impact anyway. At UNO, they've had a similar controversy, but I've sided with keeping the students right behind the visiting goalie in hopes that eventually they'll become a force. Which they've done that occasionally, but then there have been games like last Friday's USNDT exhibition, where they yakked like soccer mom's in the club lounge. (Keep that up, and you'll find yourself relegated to the upper sections of the Qwest Center again.)

Personally, I think there was another solution that could have been pursued and avoided the controversy. Rather than move the students, move the visitors. In previous years (i.e. pre-daughter), I made a habit of traveling to away games to follow the Huskers, and I assure you, the visiting team always got some of the worst seats in the stadium. Move the visitor sections from the southwest corner of the stadium to the southeast corner behind the students, and move the full-price season ticketholders from the southeast corner to the southwest corner. The views should be comparable (if not for a mirror image) for the full-price fans, and the students keep their seats. Visiting fans get the shaft, but that's nothing new. I remember in 1999, Missouri converted my "reserved ticket" from the stadium to a "reserved section with unassigned seating" on bleachers set up next to the concession stands two months after they charged my credit card. So I ended up paying full price for horrible general admission seating. I still got to watch the Huskers blow out the Tigers, so it was still worth it to me.

Maybe it's not to late to make a change and make this a win-win situation for all. Let the Colorado fans have the blocked views this Thanksgiving.


Anonymous said...

I am a student at UNL. Sorry I'm going to go into a little bit of a rant...

I do not think the "standing on the bleachers" is a valid reason for moving the students up higher. I believe this is being used an excuse for the move. If we were to stand in the rows would the complaining stop? Probably not. Also, students have been warned for years? Students cycle in and out of school about every four years so how can we be held accountable for this? I had never heard of this issue until now, and I'm a senior.

The fact is we students are getting sick of being treated like we are the least important part of this university especially when it comes to athletics. As you mentioned, we have one of the worst student sections in the Big 12, yet we pay the most for our student tickets. Many big 12 schools' student sections are front and center on the 50 yard line or behind an end zone, yet we get crammed in a sliver of a corner?

Our basketball student section is OK, but even then its very small and quickly fills up. When this happens, where do we get sent? To another sliver of a high corner.

And the volleyball student section? Oh yeah, we don't have one at all. Students are lucky if they get to attend one game a year.

In general people need to realize UNL exists to serve young adults. They also need to realize this is a football game. Not a play, not a movie, not an opera. Football is about being loud, raucus, and cheering outrageously for your team. If people want to sit comfortably and enjoy a nice quite Saturday afternoon, then stay home and let the young people have some fun.

We pay upwards of $10k - $15k per year and I feel we are entitled to some perks. It just saddens me that we students are continually seen as the least important part of UNL.

MissouriRED said...

I like the idea of putting the visitors behind.

And about getting the downgrade at Mizzou, I would have initiated a chargeback with my credit card company, and because you didn't get what you paid for, you'd have gotten at least a partial refund from the cc company.

AJ said...

Where were you sitting this past year in Columbia when your team was blown out like a healthy colon after a chili cookoff?

Boo hoo my friend. Screwing the other teams is a way of life..and quite frankly, if you peopel didn't travel 50,000 people to games (well..ahem...used to)...then there wouldn't be such drastic measures to screw you.

And actually..there were only 5,000 Husker fans in Columbia this past year, and they had better seats than many Mizzou students.

Other than that..good stuff.

TB said...

Mike, the only issue there could be with putting the visiting fans behind the students is that could be a volatile mix. Students are obviously the rowdiest fans in the stadium, and putting a bunch of targets nearby may not be such a good idea.

Anonymous said...

Where was Aj the last 30 some odd years when Mizzou regularly got blown out. Oh it's in the past you say? Well technically so is 2007 so shut the fuck up. Anyways on to the topic at hand. This move is probably going to hurt more in the long run. I think there should be an emphasis on the students to a certain extent because they are the ones who will be filling in those spots when the season ticket holders can longer attend all the games (I'm looking at you grandma). So yeah I agree we should just stiff the traveling teams fans instead. Especially Misery pukes who equate one successful year to mean some form of dominance. Go Big Red and Go Sooners (the team missouri can't beat)

Big Red in Nola

Anonymous said...

The students are paying the same price regardless of where they "sit" in the stadium, and the fact they will be moved away from the TV cameras and the chance to act like jackasses on national TV is an even better reason to move them out of that area.

mjm said...

The students are getting screwed in this deal. Let's be honest, besides the students, not many people make noise at football games. It is actually pretty weak the atmosphere at a NU game compared to other B12 schools and other conferences around the country. After I graduated from UNL, I moved to SEC country and games between 3 - 8 teams were louder and more fun than half the NU games I attended while in school. Look at A&M, the fans get into the game so much the stadium actually moves. I have never experienced that at a NU game and this move means that I never will.