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Students to sit closer to court, pay more at new stadium

Photo by Austin Anderson

Photo by Austin Anderson

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Students will pay more for tickets when Marquette basketball moves to the Wisconsin Entertainment and Sports Center, the stadium they will share with the Milwaukee Bucks, next season. Although the price of student tickets is technically staying the same at $99, students will now pay a $2 per game facility fee along with sales tax, which Marquette Athletics estimates will bring the cost up to $140.

Regular season ticket holders paid facilities fees and sales tax at the BMO Harris Bradley Center, but the athletic department used to cover this cost for students.

Assistant athletic director Brian Morgan said the extra cost for students is due to a change in agreements with the arenas. Under the old agreement with the Bradley Center, Marquette Athletics was only charged facilities fees for students in attendance, which could be a significantly fewer number of people than the total number of ticket holders. Now, the new arena will charge the athletic department the facility fee regardless of whether a student is in attendance.

“If you’re talking about a $2 charge on (all) student tickets, it’s a pretty large cost versus what we probably paid in the past,” Morgan said. “And that would hit the Marquette Athletics budget.”

Student seating will also be redesigned to allow more students the opportunity to sit closer to the court. Instead of stacking all the student seats on the north side of the stadium from the floor to the upper bowl, student tickets will all be located in the lower bowl. The student section will be split up with one behind each basket in a “bowtie” fashion.

Inspiration for the new design came from Marquette’s NIT run, which took place in the smaller, more echo-prone Al McGuire Center on campus.

“The premise was to find the best way to create the best environment,” Morgan said. “We had students on both sides of the court (during the NIT), and it really created an intimate environment and an environment that Coach and the program really galvanized themselves around.”

The new student section will hold 2,970 fans. Although this is less than the approximately 4,000 student tickets set aside at the Bradley Center, there are substantially more lower bowl seats in the new plan. Only 1,479 lower bowl seats in the Bradley Center were available to students. Twenty-nine percent of the lower bowl will be set aside for students in the new arena, as opposed to 19 percent in the Bradley Center.

Marquette has sold an average of just over 3,000 student tickets per season in the last 10 years. In particularly active years, when the Golden Eagles were locks to make the NCAA Tournament, they sold out of tickets.

In all, 17 percent of the 17,500-seat arena will be reserved for students. In comparison, Butler, another BIG EAST conference school, reserves 11 percent of seats for students. 

“There are only two or three schools that allot more than 1,000 seats to students in the BIG EAST, and we’re one of them,” Morgan said.

Fans hoping to renew their season tickets will also miss out on some savings. Due to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, which was signed into law last December, season ticket holders will no longer be able to deduct donations to the university’s student-athlete scholarship fund on their taxes. Formerly, mandatory donations to the fund were 80 percent tax deductible.

Marquette Athletics required donations to the Blue and Gold Fund along with some season ticket purchases. (Map courtesy of Marquette Athletics)

 

Thirty-two of the Bradley Center’s 76 sections required such a donation along with the price of a ticket, as did floor-level seats on the sidelines and non-student end zone. The minimum donation amount ranged from $50 in some upper bowl seats to $7,800 for sideline seats.

“When you look at our space, we’re probably in the 95th percentile in terms of the amount of donor support we receive to fund the athletic scholarships we provide,” deputy athletic director Mike Broeker said.

The athletic department considered moving the student section to one of the sidelines in much the same way Duke University does but scrapped that plan because of the displacement of season ticket holders and a potential $1.5 million revenue loss, according to Morgan.

“At the end of the day, we want every Marquette basketball fan to have an opportunity to be in this new facility,” Morgan said. “It’s an opportunity to create a home environment.”

Pricing for non-student tickets will be rolled out in the months to come. The university is releasing tickets in three phases, beginning with courtside ticket holders, then moving on to preferred season ticket holders and ending with general season ticket holders, which comprise roughly 90 percent of the total non-student cohort at games.

The preferred season ticket holders will find out their prices today, and sales will run through late June. Sales for the remainder of fans will start in July, as in previous years.

“In general, there’s been a lot of excitement around the new arena,” Morgan said. “We’re obviously excited internally about men’s basketball.”

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