Identifying fix for TCF Bank Stadium

The stadium requirement of an ID for student ticket admittance is a fumble.

John Hauck

This past weekend, my father, a University of Minnesota alumus, drove to Minneapolis to attend the Gophers-Badgers football game and to judge our new TCF Bank Stadium. The weekend went well; his beloved Badgers claimed victory, and he got to bask in the simple glory of a ball game with his son. But things easily couldâÄôve been much worse. Luckily, I was able to find my father both a ticket and the student ID he needed to enter the game, but had a friend not been looking to unload his ticket for some grub money, pops might have ended up stuck outside with a worthless student ticket. The policy that requires a student ID to enter the game with a student ticket is self-defeating and is a general impediment to everyoneâÄôs happiness. The policy, which of course is in place in order to dissuade students from selling their discounted tickets and to keep the student section full of Gophers fans, does a disservice to the students and taxpayers who paid for TCF Bank Stadium and disappoints the visitors we are trying to impress with it. We spent over $288 million on the stadium spectacle; letâÄôs make sure everyone leaves with solid enjoyment and good things to say. If one looks at the ID policy from the student ticketholderâÄôs perspective, it completely degrades the value of a ticket. Clearly, not every student season ticketholder is going to be able to go to every game, so what are oneâÄôs options if one cannot find a student to buy his or her ticket? Are empty student seats preferable to a prohibition on students selling their tickets to non-students? Limiting studentsâÄô ability to resell tickets does a disservice to students. The resale of tickets and scalping was made legal in Minnesota. The friend of mine who sold his ticket to my father for $60 did so not because he wanted to sabotage the Gophers and put Badgers in the stands, but because he wanted money to spend on food (and perhaps some beer). Why should the University limit studentâÄôs ability to trade commodities they have purchased? We do still live in America, and last time I checked, free trade remains preferable to centralized regulatory planning. There is the idea that tickets purchased at reduced student prices should only allow students to enter the stadium, thus the ID requirement. But the purchase of tickets to entertainment venues has once again become a gamble thanks to the change in state scalping law. And if students are willing to sell their tickets for cash, so be it. In this state of higher education, students could use the money. If a non-student chooses to wait to buy a ticket in hopes that a lower price will be available, the forces of supply and demand suggest both the buyer and the seller will be satisfied. It is likely that under this condition, students who sell their tickets will make a small but relevant premium from the transaction, bringing money into their pocket for the risk of the purchase and the time invested in the sale. Happy seller and a happy buyer at the game, impressed with The Bank and the Gophers. âÄúBut itâÄôs the student section,âÄù one may argue. âÄúItâÄôs not for adults.âÄù ItâÄôs unlikely this change would convert the student section into a haven for adults. The majority of students who buy tickets do so because they want to see a game. And even if students are forced to mingle with other demographics, well, thatâÄôs a benefit. ItâÄôs the type of connection local neighborhood living strives to provide. This policy also has unfortunate effects on fans from other schools and on friends of University students. For big-time events like the recent Gophers-Badgers showdown, people come from all over to see the game. My father and brother came from Madison, each with some friends of their own, as well. ShouldnâÄôt the University want to impress these people by making it more likely that they are able to buy a ticket and attend the game? TCF Bank Stadium is a great way to leave a good impression of the University and Gophers athletics on those who visit. Why bar stadium entrance to those who choose to leave a hefty sum of money in the local economy, and leave that sum in the pocket of a student who needs it? Nowhere on the student ticket does it mention that one is required to have a student ID to gain entry. Unwitting fans from out of town could purchase a student ticket without any warning of this necessity and be denied entrance to the game, only after a long trip. Will that visitor leave with a good Gophers impression? ItâÄôs doubtful. Do these situations make people want to come back in the future? No. Do they increase the demand for, price of or University revenue from tickets? No. My father has been a season ticketholder at Camp Randall in Madison since I can remember, and IâÄôve watched countless Badgers games. The game day experience is unforgettable, and it really contributes to making the University of Wisconsin a great school. I have spoken with fans from all over the Big Ten, and many told me that they make a point to come when their team plays in Madison because the stadium atmosphere is so great. TCF Bank Stadium could create the same atmosphere, but administration needs to change the policy requiring a student ID to get in with a student ticket. If the goal is to keep the stadium packed with Gophers fans, the idea that somehow having opposing fans in the stadium will detract from the experience is thoroughly foolish. GopherâÄôs home field advantage might be slightly denigrated, but the alternative is alienating the opposing fan base, people who might be inclined to make trips to TCF Bank Stadium an annual venture and bring in much needed revenues to the University area economy. John Hauck welcomes comments at [email protected]