June 29, 2006
Baton Rouge, LA (CSTV U-WIRE) -- On Nov. 4 the LSU Tiger football team and 500 student fans will travel to Knoxville for a game against arch-rival Tennessee in historic Neyland Stadium. And as a result of an athletic department decision, many of those fans will be offered their tickets before others.
Under the new athletic department plan, a total of 500 football tickets will be allocated for the trip, 200 of which will now only be available to students at the top of the priority points system, a 2005 measure designed to reward students who attend a variety of LSU athletic events with priority tickets to major events. These students will have the first opportunity to buy the additional bus trip tickets and will receive 5 points rather than 2 for the away game, another change brought about by the new plan. SG Chief of Staff Ryan Berni, who handled much of the planning, said the changes were the result of numerous student requests.
"This new plan came as a result of listening to students' needs," Berni said. "When the bus trip was announced, we received about five complaints a week from students at the top of the points system who didn't think it was fair that they could potentially lose out to others in the first-come, first-serve system we use to allocate trip tickets. So we decided to change that system."
Tickets for the bus trip, an annual SG-sponsored event in its sixth year, will go on sale starting in late Sept. at the LSU Student Union. University officials said that over the past four years, tickets have sold out within the first two hours. But while students will continue to pay the $50 ticket charge and $25 fee for gas and food expenses, the new SG plan will bring the total cost of the trip to $32,000, up $4,000 from last year's trip. But Berni said the SG budget planned for this situation, and given the trip's history, such additional expenditures are acceptable.
"This has been one of our most successful programs," Berni said. "In terms of the additional funding needed, whatever the student trip doesn't pay, the SG budget will cover. It's something we're prepared to do."
Mitch Symons, a spokesman in the athletic department ticket office, said the growing popularity of the bus trip will counterbalance the additional costs of allocating 200 extra tickets.
"The student turnout for this event has in the past few years resulted in a sell-out within the first few hours of ticket sales," Symons said. "Because of this, the athletic department and the SG worked to find a plan that was not only cost-effective, but also benefited those students who want to attend the game and have supported other LSU Athletics as well."
Across campus, many LSU students said they are pleased with the new plan. Christopher Metz, a sophomore mass communication major, said the new changes have made him reconsider the bus trip.
"Before, I wasn't sure, but now I would definitely consider attending the game," Metz said. "I'm glad the opportunity is there."
Junior kinesiology major Darrell Mahteri said he attends an average of three sporting events per week and believes the changes will be welcomed by those at the top of the priority points system.
"This is a great change," Mahteri said. "I wanted to go to this game and now I don't have to fight the crowds. Plus, the game is worth more points, so it gives students extra incentive to attend other sporting events."
But others, like sophomore sociology major Dana Loring, said the changes provide those who already receive priority tickets with another advantage.
"I don't think it's fair," Loring said. "I don't have time to attend all those games during the year, but they do, so the University takes tickets away from the rest of the student body and only gives them to a select group?"
While some may disagree with the new changes, Berni said he believes the majority of LSU students will welcome the opportunity to attend the game and receive an additional amount of points for all away games. If students receive the plan well, Berni said the changes may also extend to other University sporting events.
"Nothing's definite yet, but we're in discussion with the Athletic Department to change the ticket allocation for the bus trips for other LSU sports as well, including basketball," Berni said. "We're working to meet the students' needs and ensure that people can see the games they want to."
(C) 2006 The Daily Reveille via CSTV U-WIRE