By CODY WORSHAM
Tiger Rag Editor
The LSU Board of Supervisors unanimously approved revisions to the LSU Athletics Ticket, Parking, and Tradition Fund Policy on Friday.
The vote by the board’s Athletic Committee implements changes in ticket prices for football, men’s basketball, baseball, softball and parking, while establishing two separate season ticket prices for football.
The Athletic Department expects "the adjustments to the policy will generate an additional $2.3 million beginning in Fiscal Year 2013-14 and an additional $1.7 million in Fiscal Year 2014-15,” according to the agenda for Friday’s meeting.
The agenda also notes the price adjustment is necessary to "offset increases in expenditures such as salaries, travel, staff benefit rate increases, and student-athlete scholarship costs that have collectively risen for than $3 million annually over the past several fiscal years.”
Athletics director Joe Alleva noted 62% of LSU Athletics’ revenue comes from the Tradition Fund. He noted that 33% increases in scholarship costs and 52% increases in fringe benefits have combined with other expenses for annual increases of $2 million in the department’s fiscal demands, making the increases necessary.
"These funds are needed to balance our current budget,” Alleva said.
For football, Alleva said the largest hike would be $90 for a ticket. He added that 8,000 seats will have no increase in Tradition Fund requirements, and 3,000 seats in the upper decks will have the Tradition Fund requirement removed.
"What we’re doing in the upper decks will always make it affordable to come to a football game,” he said.
Each year, The Athletic Department will set the prices of home football, basketball, baseball, and softball tickets, based upon factors such as conference affiliation, prior season’s success, and market demand.
There will also be a separate individual game price should tickets be available to the public.
Mandatory Tradition Fund contributions will range between $210 and $1,025 per football ticket at 11 different price points, depending on the location of the seat. Previous required contributions ranged from $210 to $950 at seven price points.
Most season tickets for football subject to Tradition Fund prices will cost $425, though seats without backs in the stadium’s upper sections will cost $360. TAF tickets, which account for about 12% of total seating in the stadium, will cost $425.
Of course, not included in the costs are taxes and contributions to TAF, which are necessary to accumulate the priority points necessary to be eligible for season tickets. Members earn points for totaling $1,000 donations, with increased points and bonus incentives available for higher donations.
More than one-third of baseball seats will have no increase, and the Tradition Fund will be eliminated for all bleacher seating. Basketball Tradition Fund requirements will actually decrease.
"We were a little too zealous in our goals when we established the Tradition Fund for basketball,” Alleva said. "We needed to scale it back a little bit.”
For all sports, the Athletic Department may also implement "a dynamic pricing program” which will allow them the flexibility to adjust individual game prices in accordance with market conditions. Such market conditions include the opponent, the date/time of the game, and available inventory, among other factors.
"Our ultimate goal is to have people in the seats,” said Alleva. "We want to adjust pricing based on demand.”
Plans for new tennis, gymnastics facilities move forward
LSU’s gymnastics and tennis programs received good news at the meeting, after the board’s Properties and Facilities Committee approved separate plans for practice facilities.
The committee unanimously approved the lease agreement for construction of a gymnastics practice facility. The 43,000 square foot facility will be constructed in current parking areas east of the Carl Maddox Field House and north of the basketball practice facility.
Associate Athletics Director for Operations and Project Development Eddie Nunez said the department compared various practice facilities both in the SEC and across the country to ensure the program gets a top-notch venue.
"We’ve done a lot of homework,” Nunez said. "We’ve looked at what our counter parts have. This will take us to whole another level.”
The tennis program hopes to see similar results, and the committee’s unanimous approval of the design elevation schematics for a new tennis practice facility should do just that.
LSU is currently the only SEC tennis program without a practice facility, something former player and current student body president John Woodard noted in the meeting.
"The fact this is getting done is crucial,” said Woodard. "I don’t know how they recruit without this type of facility.”
"This is a long overdue project,” he said, noting the prospects of the future facility has already helped the women’s program obtain a top-10 recruiting class.
The facility, which will be located on Gourrier Avenue across from Alex Box Stadium and is planned to be finished between August 2014 and January 2015, will include 12 outdoor courts, six indoor courts, locker rooms, cardio spaces, and coaches’ offices, according to Nunez.
Following approval of both facilities, board member Blake Chatelain, shortly before discussion on ticket price hikes, noted the importance adding these facilities places on increasing revenues in the athletic department.
"It does put additional demands on athletic program in terms of budget to maintain these facilities,” he said.