Hope you’re well. Forthwith, more questions that either were omitted or abridged from an interview I did with Georgia Tech AD Dan Radakovich a couple weeks ago, linked here. Most of these questions are about football ticket sales.
Q: For a family of four to buy single-game tickets to one of the ACC games, it would cost minimum $200. Does that seem like a reasonable cost?
A: I think we look at our peers and we’re not out of line with our peers. To run an athletic program where you’re a tub on your own bottom, that you need to generate the revenue to create everything here, those seven Satudays this year, or six in previous years, are really the main economic engines that we have to run the entire program.
We have other events that are free or nearly free – softball, volleyball, baseball, women’s basketball. We have a lot of really good team events that are here on campus that people can come and enjoy for a greatly reduced price. Football is the one that we need to be able to create the revenue to allow all of those other things to occur.
My two cents: I acknowledge the point – that the pricing is in line with the market – but I guess I’d say that the market’s prices are expensive, also. The other thing is that, while the prices may be competitive with the cost of Braves or Falcons tickets, the Braves and Falcons have large followings of fans who aren’t season-ticket holders, where Tech obviously hasn’t had that.
Obviously, it’s a balancing act. Tickets have to be expensive enough to create revenue, even if it means sales volume isn’t as high as you’d like. But, as Tech has found over the years, it will probably mean failing to sell out unless the team becomes consistently strong.
Q: Do you feel like you’ve reached a point within the alumni base that you can’t sell more season tickets?
A: Yes and no, because we continue to graduate more people than we ever have before and many of them, we hope, are settling in the Atlanta area. One of the reasons why it’s so important to continue to have great relationships with students is that very soon those students are going to be alumni. We want them to have a great time as students and then we want them to come back as part of the general fan base.
There’s a great deal of passion associated with Georgia Tech and we want to make sure that as our alumni base continues to grow, we increase that footprint like I talked about earlier. But we also want to make sure that our students that are here right now understand that athletics is a great differentiator in their collegiate experience. Without athletics, Georgia Tech would be a very different institution and maybe not one that those students would have wanted to attend.
My two cents: It’s a hopeful way of looking at the challenge and perhaps one that will in time bear itself out, particularly if the Paul Johnson era goes the way many anticipate. However, it doesn’t appear that the school’s increasing enrollment has made a noticeable impact on season ticket sales to this point, unless new alumni are replacing fans who are giving up their tickets.
Q: What’s your opinion on the proposals to pay scholarship athletes a “cost of attendance” stipend?
A: I think that scholarship student-athletes, certainly, they get a lot of benefits being scholarship student-athletes. Some of them, because of their economic circumstance, receive additional dollars through federal Pell grants. To just say all scholarship student-athletes should get paid is a very broad statement and doesn’t really get into individual circumstances.
There’s some scholarship student-athletes that come from backgrounds where they don’t need to get paid. So it’s not a one-size-fits-all answer. I think it’s good to have the debate and good to talk about, but the idea of moving the scholarship calculation from the cost of tuition, feess, room, board and books to then include the cost of attendance at a particular school has some problems with it.
Because right now, the various costs of attendance figures at schools are very different. You could have one school that adds an additional $5,000 because of their location and another school might have $2,000 within that number.
If someone is looking at just, ‘Where am I going to make the maximum amount of money?’ they would be moving towards the school with the $5,000 cost of attendance.
I think each school very thoughtfully does that because there are other scholarhips that are given academically or whatever around college campuses that do include the cost of attendance. So by just willy-nilly increasing that (cost of attendance) number is going to have a lot of affect on other parts of campus who are giving scholarships to other individuals. So it’s really hard. It’s a nice soundbite, but I think there’s a lot more debate that has to go forward before we get to that point.
My two cents: I’m kind of with Radakovich on this one. There’s a lot to wade through. I also wonder about the rationale of the proposal. If the idea is to let student-athletes share in the wealth that they’re helping create, that makes some sense (although the truth is not many schools, Tech included, could handle the extra cost). However, if the people proposing the stipends think it’s going to make street agents or shady boosters go away, they’re bananas.