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Reseating of Kinnick Stadium makes fans consider options

[ 0 ] September 4, 2013 |

IOWA CITY, Ia. – Kevin Johnson was tailgating with his usual cast of cronies Saturday on Melrose Avenue, getting ready for another season of Iowa football.

Johnson has had season tickets for 15 years. Will it be 16 in 2014, when the Iowa athletic department reseats Kinnick Stadium for the first time since 2006?

“We had that conversation during the tailgate,” said Johnson, 42, a sales manager from Urbandale. “To me, it really depends on what they’re going to ask for.”

Season ticket holders had until June 30 to accumulate priority points, earned in a variety of ways including longevity as a season ticket holder and donations to the athletic department, for next season’s reseating. But they can still improve their priority point standing for 2014 with pledges to phase 2 of the Football Operations Center being built northwest of Kinnick Stadium, from now until the seat selection process early next year.

Most season ticket holders in the east and west grandstands also pay a seat license fee ranging from $50 to $600 per seat. Those fees will not increase in 2014.

Fans watch Iowa's season opener Saturday against Northern Illinois at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City. (Charlie Litchfield/The Register)

Fans watch Iowa's season opener Saturday against Northern Illinois at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City. (Charlie Litchfield/The Register)

Football ticket prices didn’t increase for the first time in five seasons in 2013. Iowa athletic director Gary Barta said Wednesday that work on the 2014 budget won’t take place until this winter, and “it’s too early to speculate on ticket prices for any sports at this time.”

Barta wouldn’t put a number on the amount of money he hopes to raise through the reseating, but said the increased revenue will help as he projects costs over the next decade. In addition to the expected spike in revenue, Barta called the reseating plan “a fairness issue” because it rewards fans who dig deeper by improving their seat location.

The reseating plan, which was announced in January 2012, comes at a time when Iowa’s football program is struggling to regain traction on the field. The Hawkeyes take a seven-game losing streak into Saturday’s game with Missouri State.

The announced crowd of 67,402 for the season opener, a 30-27 loss to Northern Illinois on Aug. 31, was just the fourth time in the last 66 home games that the Hawkeyes didn’t have a sellout.

According to figures provided by Iowa’s athletic ticket office Wednesday, season ticket sales have dipped from 58,128 in 2012 to 54,227 this season. The biggest drop came in student ticket sales, from 10,369 to 7,381. General public sales dropped from 43,426 to 42,646. Faculty and staff sales fell from 4,333 to 4,200. Single-game tickets remain for Iowa’s last six home games.

Conversely, athletic fundraising generated a record $28 million last season. The reseating of Kinnick in 2006 was the first time it had ever been done.

“There was apprehension then because it was different,” Barta said. “But it will be easier because our fans have been through it once before. We promised (in 2006) we wouldn’t do it any sooner than five years. It’s now been eight years. We lived up to that commitment.”

Barta pointed out that the timing wasn’t great when Carver-Hawkeye Arena was reseated before the 2011-12 season, either. The Hawkeyes were in the midst of four consecutive losing seasons.

“We did that at a competitive low point,” Barta said. “But fortunately, our fans stuck with us. They knew the bigger picture, that we had to do this to continue to compete.”

Iowa’s average attendance for men’s basketball has increased from 11,635 in 2010-11 to 13,625 last season.

Football fans earned three points for each year of season ticket purchase, and one point for each $100 in athletic contributions. Points were also given for contributions to the I-Club, the athletic department’s fundraising arm.

There are eight levels of annual giving to the I-Club, ranging from $50 for entry-level membership to $15,000 for a new level, Kinnick Society Gold.

The six levels of giving in between have increased their minimum financial requirements for the 2014 giving year. Those increases range from $50 to $2,500. Those new I-Club membership levels went into effect on July 1 and won’t play a role in Kinnick’s reseating in 2014.

Priority point information will be mailed to football season ticket holders in October, and final instructions for the reseating process and seat selection dates and times will go out in December. Those assigned times to select seats will take place in January and February of 2014.

At the end of each football season, Johnson thinks long and hard about renewing his season tickets.

In the end, his love for the Hawkeyes on fall afternoons at Kinnick outweighs the costs when the renewal form arrives.

“I’m like a little kid at Christmas,” Johnson said.

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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football

About Rick Brown: Rick Brown covers men's basketball for The Des Moines Register and Hawk Central. He's married and the father of two. He also covers golf for the Register. View author profile.

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