BATON ROUGE - LSU Athletics is proposing to the LSU Board of Supervisors a funding plan that would step up the required contributions for football tickets over the course of the next three seasons and would increase the cost of season tickets for the 2008 season.
LSU Athletics, which uses no state tax dollars or student fees to fund the operation of 20 varsity sports, is proposing the price increase to address future needs and rising costs in order to remain competitive with other nationally recognized programs. LSU Athletics is proposing to increase its revenue primarily by adjusting its Tradition Fund contribution levels.
The proposal will be considered at the next meeting of the LSU Board of Supervisors on January 17. Because there is no meeting of the board in February, it is necessary to submit this plan for approval at the January meeting in order for invoices for 2008 Tradition Fund contributions to be delivered to season ticket holders in February as is custom for Tiger fans. Board members are notified of agenda items in the week prior to their meeting and that information is released to the general public.
LSU Athletics officials have been developing the three-year plan since mid-September.
The additional revenue generated by the three-year plan will allow LSU to address a regular three to four percent inflation rate of its operating expenses, including salaries for coaches, rising costs of travel, utilities, and game guarantees, and to continue to address facilities needs in all sports.
"We first introduced the Tradition Fund in 2003 at contribution levels much lower than other schools with which we must compete on a regular basis," said LSU Athletic Director Skip Bertman. "At that time it allowed us to address some critical facility needs. This three-year plan will bring our budget more in line with those other major programs and establish a strong financial foundation for our program for years to come. By setting out a three-year plan, it not only allows LSU to plan for the future, it allows for our fans to plan for the future.
"We are experiencing great success at LSU, as evidenced by our second football national championship in five years. But we would be remiss as managers of this athletic program not to look forward and plan for the future if we intend to maintain this level of excellence. In the world of athletics, it's tough to get there, but it's tougher to stay there," Bertman said.
Even after implementation of the three-year plan, LSU's highest donation levels in the year 2010 will be considerably lower than the highest current donation levels at top SEC schools such as Florida, Tennessee and Alabama.
Part of the three-year plan also includes a $5 increase in the price of individual game tickets for the 2008 season. The cost of SEC games and games against premier non-conference opponents will increase from $45 to $50 each while the cost of all other games will go from $40 to $45. There will be no increase in the price of student tickets.
TIGER MARCHING BAND
Half of the $5 ticket price increase in the first year will go to benefit the building of a new band hall for the Tiger Marching Band. This contribution from the athletic department to the band hall project will be approximately $1.5 million.
In a related issue, the Tiger Band will move its current seating location from the northwest corner of Tiger Stadium to a location behind the north end zone. This move will give more fans in the stadium an opportunity to hear LSU's nationally-renowned band, particularly many fans in the west upper deck of Tiger Stadium who for many years have been unable to hear the band from its current location.
This move involves seats currently located within the student section of Tiger Stadium, so it does not create any new seating for season ticket holders.
Under the proposal the Tradition Fund contribution levels will increase yearly beginning in 2008 through 2010. The highest contribution levels are for seats located on the sidelines of Tiger Stadium between the 20 yard lines, which include only about 7,800 of LSU's 92,400 seats. The cost of those seats will increase by $150 per year from the current contribution requirement of $500 to $650 in 2008, $800 in 2009 and $950 in 2010.
By comparison, required contributions for prime sideline seats are currently $2,500 at Tennessee and $1,500 at Alabama. Florida has a two-tiered contribution plan that requires more recent season ticket holders to maintain certain donation levels every year to have the right to purchase tickets while long-standing ticket holders pay a $700 donation to purchase sideline tickets. Florida has already announced that its sideline seat donation requirement will increase to $1,000 in 2010.
All sideline seats located outside the 20 yard lines will continue to require a contribution $50 less than those located between the 20 yard lines.
The largest percentage of seats affected will be the end zone seats of Tiger Stadium. Over 45 percent of LSU's season ticket holders are seated in the end zones. End zone seats currently require a Tradition Fund contribution of $105 per season. The proposal calls for an increase of $35 per year to $140 in 2008, $175 in 2009 and $210 in 2010.
Upper deck Tradition Fund contribution requirements are currently $500 and $450 for Tiger Terrace seats, $300 and $250 for chair back seats and $120 for prime bench back seats. There is no Tradition Fund contribution for bench back seats outside the 20 yard lines in the upper deck.
Beginning in 2008, LSU Athletics is proposing Tradition Fund contributions of $650 and $600 for Tiger Terrace seats, $350 and $300 for chair back seats and $150 for prime bench back seats.
Beginning in 2009, Tradition Fund contributions in the upper deck would be $800 and $750 for Tiger Terrace seats, $400 and $350 for chair back seats and $185 for prime bench back seats.
Beginning in 2010, Tradition Fund contributions in the upper deck would be $950 and $900 for Tiger Terrace seats, $500 and $400 for chair back seats and $225 for prime bench back seats.