Badger fans could see a hike in general admission football tickets next year to compensate for increased operational costs.
The Finance Committee of the University of Wisconsin Athletic Department proposed a $3 increase per game, totaling a $21 hike in regular season ticket prices, UW Athletic Department spokesperson Justin Doherty said.
All but one member of the committee voted in favor of the proposal. However, the price increase will not go into effect until passed by the Athletic Board, he said.
With increased operational expenses and the potential of unexpected costs not accounted for in the budget such as a state mandate requiring new payment plans for state employees, an increase in ticket prices has become necessary, Doherty said.
The funds from increased ticket prices would also go toward travel expenses for UW teams, Doherty said. With Rutgers and Maryland joining the Big Ten, there will be more flights to the East Coast than before, he said.
“The cost of operating goes up like anything in life,” Doherty said.
UW Athletic Board Chair Dale Bjorling said UW ticket prices are “relatively low” in comparison to other institutions in the Big Ten.
The Athletic Department does not have a habit of recommending increases, Bjorling said, adding this proposed increase is tied to the need to operate the program and build a budget for next year in a “fiscally-responsible” manner.
“When you consider that we have won three straight Big Ten Championships, I think we are putting a pretty good product on the field. [We] have kept the prices for that product, relatively speaking compared to the other schools in the conference, pretty low,” Bjorling said.
However, he said ticket price is a factor in attendance, noting that UW saw below average attendance this year. The Athletic Department is working to identifying why this trend occurred, but given the nature and size of the program, the effects of the increased ticket prices on attendance will have to be observed next year, he said.
Nonetheless, Bjorling said people seemed to be comfortable with the price increase.
Nancy Hilton, a member of the Fan Advisory Council, said as a season ticket holder of more than 35 years, she did not have a problem with an increase in prices.
With increases in price across the board, Hilton said this is not “an out of line request.”
“Football is an expensive habit, but an enjoyable one,” Hilton said, adding that it was a big part of many people’s lives.
Football is one of the top revenues for the UW community and brings in millions to the city and the university, Hilton said. UW has to have “top-notch facilities” to be able to compete, she said.
Although the Fan Advisory Council has not discussed an increase in price yet, Hilton said she expects it will be discussed at its next meeting in February.