I’m not sure the best question is whether the point system is fair or unfair. The way the Campaign is designed, its hard to find a lot of fault with the basic logic. I am among the season ticket holders who bristled at being told, point blank, that I would need to donate about $150,000 to keep my seats! After 10 years, that was a shock to the system. However, at face value, the point system seems plausible and I know it has worked at schools like Texas A&M.
The problem I have involves previous inequities and the thought process for launching this initiative during the worst economic downturn in nearly 100 years. I think what the athletic department is struggling with stems from decades of inequity caused by the short-sided decision to grandfather-in donation rates from the 60s, 70s and 80s. While some season ticket holders have been paying $5-6000/year for the “right” to two seats, others paid around $500. So essentially, some donors were subsidizing others — that is truly unfair, and the point system doesn’t significantly change this inequity.
Under the point system, a 30 year donor (at $500/year) and ticket holder would accrue 1500 points, while a 10 year donor (at $5500/year) would accrue just 1000. So, the subsidy persists. Historically, the department should have charged everyone the same rate for donations, depending on seat location. It didn’t, and that is coming back to bite everyone. The Campaign has essentially unmasked years of inequity and it stinks to a lot of donors.
In my opinion, the fair approach would be to require ticket holders to make up the difference in the amount they paid and the amount they were “subsidized.” That would completely level the playing field. However, I’m sure the fall-out from those with grandfathered rates would be enormous. So, I guess the real problem I have with the point system is that it still creates a proportionally unfair advantage based solely upon consecutive years as a donor/ticket holder.
I understand they are trying to create more competition for the seats to maximize revenue, but it is extremely hypocritical when the department has failed to even attempt to adjust these discrepancies for decades. If the department had had any foresight, it would have gradually increased rates over the last 10-20 years for those grandfathered-in to maximize revenues and minimize ticket holder shock and discontent. The department was poorly managed for years and they are now trying to remedy that mismanagement in one fell swoop — and its painful to everyone involved.
The timing of this colossal restructuring, during one of nation’s worst economic downturns, only adds to the pain. Not only will the Campaign struggle with decades-old inequities, it will have to increase donation revenues when almost everyone has scaled back spending. The Campaign could effectively lock out recent grads and those currently struggling for decades — and that doesn’t seem fair. I’m afraid this will attract a certain demographic, essentially making decent-great seats at Pauley the province of well-to-do older people. So, the newly renovated Pauley may be better, but it almost certainly won’t be louder, more energetic or more intimidating.
So, is the point system unfair? On the surface level, not really. However, the Campaign exposes and maintains inequities that have persisted for decades. Given the opportunity to level the playing field and plan for the future, the Campaign for Champions’ approach and timing seems both short-sided and unfair.