July 02, 2009
Too often in sports we mistake "money" for "support." Sure, there are the big-time collegiate boosters, the guys who anonymously come out of the woodwork to pony up a million bucks when a certain troublesome coach needs a buyout, pronto. I get that this is how college sports work. And hey, many boosters are really big fans of their team that also happen to have tons of money with which to express that fandom. Nothing wrong with that.
But there's a fine line there, and it's when we begin to forget that money does not perfectly equate to fandom. Supporting a team comes in many forms. Some of them are financially agnostic.
It is in that spirit, then, that you'll probably read these figures in horror: UCLA is revamping Pauley Pavilion and with it their ticketing system, and if you want a frontcourt seat, you better be ready to pony up the dough. From the AP:
Courtside seats will require a $500,000 donation to the capital campaign, payable over five years, plus an annual donation of $17,000 per seat to the Wooden Athletic Fund. A one-time donation of $30,000 or more assures up to four seats mostly between the baskets in the lower half of the arena. Those tickets require annual Wooden Fund donations of $2,000 to $4,000 per seat, plus the face value of the tickets.
Hey, got a spare down payment on a house handy? Want to blow a bit of your kid's trust fund? Have a seat "mostly between the baskets in the lower half of the arena!" That sounds fun! And that doesn't even approach the half-a-mil necessary to get in those courtside digs. Eesh.
Again, this is how college sports work, and you won't see me pulling a William Jennings Bryan here any time soon; rich people should get to spend their money how they want, and if UCLA can draw $500,000 for a basketball seat, more power to them. But it is slightly disconcerting that price increases could price out long time fans, who, though they'd have the most "points" under UCLA's system, will again be subject to more mandatory donations than they might previously have bargained for. I wonder how John Wooden would feel about that.