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The student section problem (yes, again)


It's that time of the year when we can complain about the student section again.

Mark Hollis recently spoke at the Detroit Economic Club, and student tickets was a topic. The biggest conundrum is student tickets selling out - as they do - but students choosing to show up late, leave early or not show up at all.

"We're seeing trends with student populations - not only at Michigan State but across the country, at Alabama, at Georgia, at Wisconsin, at Michigan - of individuals purchasing tickets and then making choices not to attend games," Hollis said last week at a downtown Detroit Economic Club event. "And you're seeing large (empty) blocks. And your hope is, you have to connect on, what is it that they're they missing in that experience? And what's gonna re-engage?"

"They're selling, that's the thing that (we) and so many other marketing folks have to deal with nationally," Hollis said. "When they all show up, they all want a seat. And you kind of have to stay on that barometer. So I don't anticipate us reducing that number, but I think we're gonna continue to monitor it."

Student turnout has been so spotty at U-M that they're moving to general admission, like MSU does. This will probably result in a few visible rows at the top of the section. But if it gets more students to show up, it's worth it to them.

The student section leads the charge at college football games. There's nothing like the atmospheres in college football. In my opinion, attending the games is more fun than watching them on TV, but I know that's not the case with everyone. We've talked about things that need to be fixed at Spartan Stadium before, and ticket prices can turn off some people.

But this isn't that issue here. The tickets are already sold (for much cheaper prices). Students just aren't showing up. This is often because they want to make sure they have a ticket for a certain game (U-M, OSU) or because they want to sell tickets. If you fall in these camps, shame on you. I don't understand why you wouldn't want to go to every game if you paid for them. You only get seven a year. The beer will be there when you get back. But that's just me.

My opinion is that the section needs to shrink. Probably take away the upper deck, or at least part of it. But that doesn't totally solve the problem. You want to make sure students who want to go to games are the ones that get season tickets. Based on student ID, there should be data on who attends games. Give the students who attend most of the games first dibs at season tickets for the next season. Then open it to all other students/freshmen. Kind of how the Izzone determines lower bowl tickets.

Anyway, I don't expect this to change soon. I expect a full section for the Michigan game, and that will probably be it. We'll have this discussion again during the season and then the next offseason.