Empty student seats at TCF Stadium? U has a plan

  • Article by: MAURA LERNER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 14, 2014 - 10:48 AM
hide

Gophers fans, and empty seats in the upper deck, during the game against UNLV in the season opener at TCF Bank Stadium.

Photo: Renee Jones Schneider, DML - Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Ever notice the half-empty student section at the University of Minnesota’s home football games? So has the university.

In fact, so few students buy season tickets at TCF Bank Stadium that the U is looking for another way to fill the empty seats.

Starting this fall, if the 10,000 student seats aren’t sold out by the first week of school, the U may offer them to the public — at more than three times the student price. On Friday, the Board of Regents gave its blessing to the Athletic Department to make the change.

“It’s our goal to fill that section with 10,000 students,” Mike Ellis, the executive associate athletic director, told the board. But realistically, he said, that goal has been elusive.

Since the 50,800-seat stadium opened in 2009, the number of student season-ticket holders has dropped from 10,248 to 4,953 last year.

From the start, legislators required the U to set aside 10,000 seats for students at a relatively modest price — currently, $90 per season. That’s a bargain compared with season tickets for the general public, which now range from $310 to $330. But even at a discount, fewer than 3,900 students bought season tickets in 2012, the low point.

“This is a national trend, it’s not just here,” said Chris Werle, senior associate athletic director. Even Michigan and Alabama — two of the most popular college teams — have seen a decline, he noted.

Some say it’s because students would rather watch at home on flat-screen TVs. Or because of the iffy Wi-Fi reception in the stadium, which can make it hard to multitask while cheering.

“Nobody knows,” said Werle, “but everybody knows that the numbers are declining.”

Joelle Stangler, a junior who is the incoming student-body president, says there are practical obstacles, too. “Many students have work obligations on the weekends,” she said. And with the U’s history as a commuter campus, she noted, “game day isn’t an integral part of every student’s life.”

Mike Schmit, a finance major, said he skipped the season tickets his sophomore year because of the cost. “Personally, I have over $30,000 in student loans,” he said. “I could use this $100 somewhere else.”

In the past, the U did not permit the Athletic Department to sell student seats to the public until the Tuesday before game day. Now, it will release them for all games after the first week of school — but only, Ellis said, if all the other seats in the stadium are sold out. Even then, they’ll keep a minimum of 6,000 seats for students.

Officials say that student-ticket sales have started to climb back up, thanks in part to a big spring-marketing campaign.

But there’s one selling point they can’t control.

“If they’re losing, students don’t want to go,” said Schmit. “That’s pretty plain and simple.”

Werle agreed. “Winning helps. That’s just the truth.”

Maura Lerner • 612-673-7384



  • related content

  • University of Minnesota regents OK second year of tuition freeze

    Friday June 13, 2014

    The freeze continues. The University of Minnesota formally extended a tuition freeze for a second year for undergraduate Minnesota residents...

  • Empty seats can be a common sight at TCF Bank Stadium, this time during outdoor hockey. U officials have a plan for football.

  • The student section was packed for the Gophers’ opening game at TCF Bank Stadium in September 2009.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Cincinnati - M. Latos 6:05 PM
Baltimore - B. Norris
Boston - J. Kelly 6:05 PM
NY Yankees - S. Greene
Detroit - K. Lobstein 6:05 PM
Cleveland - C. Carrasco
NY Mets - J. Niese 6:10 PM
Miami - B. Penny
Philadelphia - K. Kendrick 6:10 PM
Atlanta - M. Minor
Toronto - R. Dickey 6:10 PM
Tampa Bay - J. Hellickson
Milwaukee - Y. Gallardo 7:05 PM
Chicago Cubs - J. Arrieta
LA Angels - C. Wilson 7:10 PM
Houston - B. Peacock
Chicago WSox - H. Noesi 7:10 PM
Minnesota - T. Milone
Texas - D. Holland 7:10 PM
Kansas City - J. Guthrie
Pittsburgh - J. Locke 7:15 PM
St. Louis - A. Wainwright
San Francisco - Y. Petit 7:40 PM
Colorado - J. Lyles
Seattle - J. Paxton 9:05 PM
Oakland - S. Gray
Washington - D. Fister 9:10 PM
Los Angeles - C. Kershaw
Arizona - W. Miley 9:10 PM
San Diego - O. Despaigne
Green Bay 9/4/14 7:30 PM
Seattle
Buffalo 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
New Orleans 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Atlanta
Minnesota 9/7/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Cleveland 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Jacksonville 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Oakland 9/7/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
Cincinnati 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
Washington 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Tennessee 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
New England 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Carolina 9/7/14 3:25 PM
Tampa Bay
San Francisco 9/7/14 3:25 PM
Dallas
Indianapolis 9/7/14 7:30 PM
Denver
Utah State 7 FINAL
Tennessee 38
SMU 0 FINAL
(10) Baylor 45
Miami-Florida 13 FINAL
Louisville 31
Arizona 9/4/14 7:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Pittsburgh 9/5/14 6:00 PM
Boston College
Washington St 9/5/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
SMU 9/6/14 11:00 AM
North Texas
Fla Atlantic 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(2) Alabama
Buffalo 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Army
(24) Missouri 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Toledo
Arkansas State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Tennessee
(7) McNeese State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(22) Nebraska
Central Mich 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
Akron 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
Western Ill 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(14) Wisconsin
(20) Kansas State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
(4) Oklahoma 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Tulsa
Western Ky 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
SC State 9/6/14 11:30 AM
(16) Clemson
Navy 9/6/14 12:00 PM
Temple
UAB 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Miss State
South Alabama 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Kent State
New Mexico St 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Colorado 9/6/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Fresno State 9/6/14 2:00 PM
Utah
(2) Eastern Wash 9/6/14 2:00 PM
(25) Washington
(15) USC 9/6/14 2:30 PM
(11) Stanford
Ohio U 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Middle Tennessee 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Minnesota
Northern Ill 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Missouri State 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Ball State 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Iowa
Maryland 9/6/14 2:30 PM
So Florida
Eastern Mich 9/6/14 3:00 PM
Florida
Georgia Tech 9/6/14 3:00 PM
Tulane
(18) Ole Miss 9/6/14 3:30 PM
Vanderbilt
Old Dominion 9/6/14 5:00 PM
NC State
(8) Michigan State 9/6/14 5:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(19) Arizona State 9/6/14 6:00 PM
New Mexico
Louisiana Tech 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana
San Jose St 9/6/14 6:00 PM
(6) Auburn
East Carolina 9/6/14 6:00 PM
(9) So Carolina
Duke 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Troy
Idaho 9/6/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(15) Sam Houston St 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(13) LSU
Michigan 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(17) Notre Dame
Lamar 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(21) Texas A&M
Northwestern St 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
BYU 9/6/14 6:30 PM
Texas
Citadel 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(1) Florida State
San Diego St 9/6/14 7:00 PM
(23) North Carolina
Virginia Tech 9/6/14 7:00 PM
(5) Ohio State
Memphis 9/6/14 9:00 PM
(7) UCLA
Colorado State 9/6/14 9:15 PM
Boise State
Air Force 9/6/14 9:15 PM
Wyoming
Oregon State 9/6/14 9:30 PM
Hawaii
Texas Tech 9/6/14 10:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Brt Columbia 9/5/14 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Calgary 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
Hamilton 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Montreal
Saskatchewan 9/7/14 3:00 PM
Winnipeg
Minnesota 9:00 PM
Phoenix

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How many fantasy football teams do you draft?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close