Unless ticket prices increase for many sporting events next year, the LSU Athletic Department could end up $2 million in the red, LSU Athletic Director Joe Alleva said Friday.
Alleva was at LSU’s Board of Supervisors meeting to sway board members, who will decide in December whether to approve price increases for football tickets next year and for LSU baseball tickets in 2015.
Alleva told board members the ticket prices need to be approved by the end of the year if LSU is to keep up in the athletic “arms race” with other Southeastern Conference schools. He also called for the board that oversees the LSU system to change its procedures and let the Athletic Department adjust prices without board approval.
Alleva would not specifically decribe how the budget was short. But he said, generally, the department’s costs continue to rise, such as travel expenses and what it pays coaches in salaries and benefits, which could lead to a shortfall.
Board member Stephen Perry questioned why Alleva was asking for a price increase when the SEC Network is expected to start broadcasting in August 2014. LSU stands to make extra revenue from that deal.
Alleva said he “has no idea” how much money the network will bring LSU. Industry watchers estimate the ESPN-backed network could bring each of the SEC’s 14 schools an extra $14 million in revenue each year.
Board member Rolfe McCollister said no matter how much prices increase, fans will still show up for football games.
“Nobody has to buy tickets,” McCollister said. “We have a great product, and in free enterprise in America, when you’ve got a great product, you’re rewarded and people buy your product.”
Ticket sales, and the “seat donations” that often are required, account for $59 million, or more than half of the $101.5 million the athletic department expects to make for the fiscal year that began July 1, according to Alleva’s presentation to the board. Parking brings in another $2.9 million.
The proposal calls for increases for baseball tickets and parking, for more than 50,000 football ticket packages and to the Tradition Fund — the fee charged for some of Tiger Stadium’s most desirable seats.
This would be the first price increase for football since 2010 and baseball since 2009.
Tradition Funds donations for the current season ranged from $210 to $950. The proposal calls for increases ranging from $20 to $90.
The plan also includes a 6 percent increase for football season ticket prices and a hike in the Tradition Fund people pay in to in order to secure campus parking for cars and RVs.
The proposed parking plan will see 49 percent of the parking prices remain at their current level. The largest increase will be $100.
But not everybody would be paying more under the proposal. Five thousand upper deck, or 600 Level, seats inside Tiger Stadium would see a 10 percent reduction in costs, while 14,000 student season tickets prices would stay the same price.
Additionally, Aleva said, the proposal calls for an across-the-board decrease in basketball ticket prices.
Alleva called the new pricing plan essential for an Athletic Department that typically sees its costs rise by about $3 million every year.
In calling for both price increases and the authority in the future to adjust prices without first getting approval from the board, Alleva said any competent athletic director is mindful of the prices fans are asked to pay.
“We’re not going to raise prices 10 percent every year; we’d go out of business,” he said. “But it would be nice to be able to raise prices 10 percent in one section and maybe come down 10 percent in another.”
He called board oversight of ticket prices “burdensome.”