The 2017 football season saw dips in student attendance sparked by a widely criticized wristband policy. Coach Tom Herman’s dream of a dynamic student section never came close to becoming reality.
In 2018, things could be radically different.
Texas officials are making wholesale changes to the student sections and student ticket policy for next season, athletic director Chris Del Conte said. Students will be moved to the southeast corner of Royal-Memorial Stadium, and all student seating will become general admission.
The Longhorn band also will be moved from the north end zone to the southeast corner alongside the students. The band’s exact location inside the stadium has not been decided.
“The wristband policy is going away. We’re going to a general admission, first-come-first-served policy,” Del Conte said in an interview. The school wants to “help create what Tom and our football program want, which is one of the greatest home-field advantages at DKR. And our students are going to play an integral role in that.”
Season ticket-holders will be glad to know there are no price increases for 2018, either. It will be the third straight year UT has not raised football season ticket prices. There are also no changes to the grandfathering policy with UT donation requirements.
The school has yet to see how the tax law changes will affect season ticket sales. As part of the 2018 tax overhaul enacted by Congress, new legislation eliminates tax deductions for the seat donation component of the season ticket purchase.
Previously, one new season ticket purchase on the 50-yard line cost $4,160 — $3,500 of which paid for the donation while the remaining $660 bought the actual ticket. A majority of the $3,500 was then considered a tax deduction. Renewing season ticket-holders may have a far lower donation requirement due to the grandfathering policy.
Existing season ticket-holders have until March 8 to renew at their current prices.
The student seating changes consumed most, if not all, of UT’s internal discussions regarding 2018 season tickets.
Students previously sat on the northeast side of Royal-Memorial Stadium and the south end zone. Next season, students will occupy sections 29, 30, 31 and 32 in the southeast corner. That will create one contiguous student section that bends around the corner and goes into the end zone.
Students balked at having to walk over to Mike A. Myers Stadium and get a wristband that corresponded with their proper section. Many simply chose to just skip the football game.
By moving to a general admission format, Texas is now allowing its most passionate students to get in first. “Line up and come on. Come get it,” Del Conte said.
Visiting team fans had been sitting in the southeast corner. They will now be placed in sections 119-125 atop the third deck in the northeast corner. Texas fans who attend road games know that other schools seat them in undesirable locations, including the upper reaches of the stadium.
Del Conte said other season ticket-holders who will be displaced by students will get corresponding seats in the northeast corner.
Being new to campus, Del Conte could easily take full credit for what looks like an easy decision. He won’t, though. He made clear that outgoing athletic director Mike Perrin oversaw the discussions and made the recommendations. Del Conte simply signed off on what the team had in place.
“This is a great plan for Texas,” Del Conte said in a letter sent to season ticket-holders.
Contact Brian Davis at 512-445-3957. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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