The University of Wisconsin Athletic Board approved UW Athetics’ proposal for the 2018-19 budget last week, which totals $143.5 million — an eight percent increase from last year.
In addition to the budget increase, the Athletic Department has recommended a raise of $6 per game on non-student tickets. This will increase the season ticket cost from $336 to $378. As student ticket costs remain fixed at half the price of general tickets, season tickets for students will increase from $168 to $189.
At the beginning of the year, Athletic Director Barry Alvarez sent out a letter to season-ticket holders explaining the price increase. In the letter, Alvarez thanked the ticket holders for their support of the Wisconsin Football Program and praised Head Coach Paul Chryst on the successful 13-win campaign. Alvarez this season was “truly a season for the ages” for the Badgers.
Next, Alvarez gave the rationale for the price hikes.
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“Although winter sports are the focal point at this moment, we are also working through our budgeting process for the 2018-19 academic year. One of the financial decisions we’ve made is to recommend to the Finance Committee of the Athletic Board a price adjustment for football season tickets. I’m writing to let you know the Finance Committee will be forwarding our recommendation of a $6 increase per game for a football season ticket to the full Athletic Board for approval later this month,” Alvarez said. “This would be the first increase in three years. Prior to this proposed increase, the price of a Wisconsin football season ticket has increased a total of $9 per game over the past 10 years.”
Alvarez also mentioned the team’s record over the last seasons and compared it to some of the most high-profile programs in the country. Wisconsin has only been behind Alabama, Clemson and Ohio State in terms of winning percentages since the start of the 2014 season.
A listing of the Big Ten schools’ ticket prices accompanied the letter, including the average tax deductible contribution and the total. Contributions are solicited through perks like “Badger Select,” which allows donors priority access to tickets and parking requests. In the letter, Alvarez claims UW was tenth in the Big Ten for season ticket prices and remains tenth even after the price raise.
This is only true if you consider the total price with additional contribution the average patron pays. Otherwise UW was the eighth most expensive and will now be the sixth most expensive in the Big Ten.
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Speculation that ticket prices have been raised in an attempt to keep the student section full the whole game, rather than the five minutes before and after “Jump Around,” initiated a response from UW Athletics spokesman Brian Lucas.
“As far as any plans to address the student section and arrival of students, we are constantly looking for ways to enhance our game day environment. This is one area that discussions are ongoing. There is nothing concrete to share at this time,” Lucas said.
In the new GOP tax bill there is a clause that limits the tax deductibility for contributions to college athletic programs. Other universities have raised concerns about the bill, but the business office at the Wisconsin Athletic Department said it was too soon to see what impact the bill will have on the program.