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freds Moneymakers
08-07-2010, 11:37 PM
University of Minnesota athletics officials and the Golden Gopher Fund announced today that it will be making changes to the athletics department's Preferred Seating program for both men's basketball and men's hockey.

According to a letter being mailed to season ticket holders for both sports, the athletics department will utilize the Gopher Points system to reallocate season ticket locations in both Williams and Mariucci Arenas prior to the 2012-13 men's basketball and men's hockey seasons.

The Gopher Points system was used with great success during the seat-selection process for TCF Bank Stadium and athletics department officials believe that expanding the Preferred Seating program currently in place for men's basketball and men's hockey will bring consistency and standardization to seating in both venues.

Using the Gopher Points system to reallocate seating in both Williams Arena and Mariucci Arena will also help the athletics department address significant pricing inequities that exist within both facilities, while simultaneously helping the athletics department to add to and diversify its revenue streams.

"Safeguarding the financial health of Gopher Sports is a key element in helping our student-athletes achieve the athletic and academic goals we all have for them," director of athletics Joel Maturi said. "In order to meet these ongoing fiscal challenges, we believe it is necessary to bring our Preferred Seating program up to date by reseating men's basketball and men's hockey season ticket holders based on the Gopher Points system prior to the 2012-13 season.

"The costs to fund our athletics programs are significant and ever increasing. It is essential that we meet these challenges head on and have a responsible plan to deal with the fiscal realities of remaining competitive in the Big Ten and WCHA. There is never a good time to make a change like this and doing so is not easy for us. We do not take this issue lightly and we are sensitive to the concerns of our season ticket holders. However, the long-term financial viability requires us to have a long-term financial plan in place."

This will be the first seating change made in Williams Arena since 1993 - nearly 20 years. The reallocation of seating in Mariucci Arena will also allow for a consolidation of the venue's two student sections into one.

Associate athletics director David Crum, who oversees the Golden Gopher Fund, said that nothing in the reallocation plan has been finalized at this point, but that athletics department officials believe it was necessary to begin communicating with season ticket holders on this topic.

"Change is always unsettling and we felt that it was really important to begin communicating with our season ticket holders on this subject as soon as possible," Crum said. "The reseating will not take place for two seasons, and by informing our season ticket holders now it gives everyone a better chance to prepare."

Crum, who expects the reallocation plan to be similar to the seating process utilized to seat TCF Bank Stadium, said that athletics department officials expect to have information finalized by the Spring of 2011 and that more specific Gopher Points and reseating information will be provided to men's basketball and men's hockey season ticket holders at that time.
Frequently Asked Questions

What is Gopher Points and Preferred Seating?
Gopher Points was introduced in 2008 during the seat-selection process for TCF Bank Stadium. The system combines a number of factors to rank each season ticket holder, including (but not limited to) season ticket history, donations to the University, and being a graduate of the University. Preferred Seating was introduced in its current form in 1993, and requires an annual donation in addition to the price of the season ticket.

Why does the athletics department need to expand the Preferred Seating program and use Gopher Points?
These changes will provide increased donations to help Minnesota athletics pay for student-athlete scholarships and make facility upgrades to benefit the fan experience.

When will this happen?
Reseating will take place prior to the 2012-2013 season. The athletics department will provide additional information to season ticket holders again this winter, and provide specific Gopher Points information in the spring of 2011.

What will the Preferred Seating donations cost?
The athletics department expects required donations for certain seats to be similar to those in TCF Bank Stadium, which are $100, $250, $500 per seat. The athletics department will have maps with specific donation amounts when the plan is finalized next spring.

Will all seats require a donation?
No. All seats will NOT require a donation. The athletics department will make maps with specific donation amounts as well as non-donation seating locations available when the plan is finalized next spring.

Can season ticket holders obtain their specific points information now?
The athletics department is working on organizing the data and will provide it to each season ticket holder in the spring of 2011.

Can season ticket holders keep the same seats they have now by paying the donation in 2012?
No. Both Williams Arena and Mariucci Arena will be completely reseated, with the selection order for season ticket holders based upon specific Gopher Points totals. All season ticket holders will be required to participate in the seat selection process in 2012.