22 June 2008
We're still looking. We're set to go with it. We hope to make something happen in the very near future on that. Everything says the demand for the tickets are there, for the skyboxes is there, for the clubs (seats) is there. The student body is growing at a rate — we've broken our enrollment record four straight years, maybe five straight years — where we're over 25,000. With the demand for student tickets, the president has asked for more student tickets. So everything says 'Build.'I'll be honest and say that the out-cry from students not getting tickets is pretty ridiculous. When enrollment tops 20,000 it is virtually impossible to make room for all students. First of all, not all students want to go to games. I understand the argument that all students who want to go should be able to go, but that is just not realistic. Sure, at a school like Notre Dame all of the students get tickets. Counting undergraduate and graduate students, Notre Dame has an enrollment of less than 12,000. It is far, far better for the University of Alabama as a public academic institution to continue to grow in size. Sure, there are growing pains. There are classes that are a little too large. There aren't enough dorms. Construction on campus is unsightly. But once the enrollment plateaus, and Alabama is one of the larger public institutions in the south, then the academic side of things really changes. You have the opportunity to bring in the best professors. You have the opportunity to get the best research grants. And your alumni base becomes a much more powerful resource in helping with the continued advancement of your school and all of its entities - which includes football. The downside to that is that not all students can go to every football game. And while that may be a tough pill to swallow for a lot of underclassmen at Alabama, it is just the way that things are. Alabama is not alone in this problem. Huge schools like the Ohio State University, Texas & Tennessee deal with this on a larger scale than Alabama. The reality is that you can not financially afford to set aside 25% of the seats in your stadium for the use of students. And that is what would be required to allow all students who want to attend games to do so. Yes, the students are loud, and help to create a great home-field advantage. But there is also a responsibility that the University has to its alumni and its boosters. The feasible "fixes" that would help this problem some are:
- Do away with student guest tickets. It is a nice luxury for a student to be able to bring a friend or family member who is not a UA student to the game with them. But if you are short on student seats, then you do away with nice luxuries.
- Make student tickets electronic. Do away with paper tickets for students, and have their student ID card (or ACT card) contain the ticket electronically. This keeps students who have no interest in attending games from buying tickets and selling them to the highest bidder. Again, it is a nice luxury for some financially strapped students to be able to make money off of their tickets. But, again, when you are short on tickets, you do away with those luxuries.
- When an additional 10,000 seats are added in a new expansion, dedicate 20%, or 2,000 seats to the students. That would give an additional 7-10% of the student body an opportunity to have tickets.
- Limit "block-seating". This is made available to student organizations, from fraternities and sororities to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes to the SGA. It is a tradition that fraternities and sororities have the ability to sit with their brothers and sisters, and there is a call for that. But if there is going to be a numbers crunch for all other students, then that crunch has to be felt here as well.
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