Student benefits would be unique

by Lora Pabst

As soon as a new, on-campus Gophers stadium is built, students will have to dig deeper into their pockets for football season tickets.

Phil Esten, the special assistant to the athletics director, said the student and public prices for season football tickets will increase after the new stadium is built. The prices haven’t been decided, but Esten said the student price will be one-third of what the general public pays.

“It might go up a little, but you’re not going to see ticket prices close to Ohio State or Wisconsin,” Esten said.

Along with the increase in ticket prices, students would have to pay a $50-per-semester stadium fee. Students will receive a benefits package once the $50 fee is in place.

Compared with students who attend other schools in the Big Ten, University students pay a relatively low price for season tickets, as a percentage of what the public pays for season football tickets. Students pay $55 for season football tickets and the general public pays $210.

The University’s proposed benefits package is unique among Big Ten schools because it includes benefits unrelated to athletics.

As the benefits package model stands, students would receive reduced football season ticket prices, discounted access to Les Bolstad Golf Course, student representation on a stadium programming advisory board, a Goldy’s VIP card or pass that would include admission to other sporting events and possible discounts at local retailers and restaurants. Officials are considering using a percentage of concession sales for student groups and arts and other entertainment benefits that have yet to be defined.

“(The benefits package) is as comprehensive as you’re gonna find in college athletics because it offers something for everybody,” Esten said.

Lynn Holleran, associate to the Office of the President, said the University worked with students to design the benefits package.

“Those ideas Ö came from students, not other Big Ten schools,” Holleran said. “There isn’t really anything like this.”

One of the goals of the student benefits package is to provide benefits for students who might not be interested in athletics.

Margo Robmann, a first-year English major, doesn’t go to football games. She said there are a lot of students who aren’t interested in athletics but will still be required to pay the $50-per-semester stadium fee.

“It’s good they provided the opportunity for students who aren’t interested in athletics,” she said. “If they’re paying for it, they should be able to get some use out of that fee.”

Ashley Benson, a first-year journalism student, said she would pay the stadium fee because she attends football games, but said she was glad benefits would accompany the fee.

“Few people have less money than students so getting something cheaper or a discount is really good,” she said.

Most schools in the Big Ten require students to pay directly for football season tickets.

The schools all have different prices for student and general public season football tickets, but they can be compared by measuring how much students pay for season tickets as a percentage of what the general public pays.

The University’s proposed model will have students paying the $50-per-semester fee, which subsidizes football tickets, as well as a direct charge for the actual season ticket passes.

Northwestern University is the only school with a similar model.

Mark Wesoloski, the director of ticket operations for Northwestern, said that last year the school’s student government passed a resolution for undergraduate students to pay an activities fee. All undergraduate students then receive free football season tickets, but this does not include a benefits package similar to the University of Minnesota’s proposed benefits package.

“If students took advantage of all the different aspects of the package, the value would be beyond the $50 value,” Holleran said.