Let's start off with the good news: The UCLA Athletic Department is actually interested in what is important to fans attending UCLA games. Well, it's about time.
Much of this can and should be attributed to the departure of Senior Associate Athletic Director for External Relations Mark Harlan. Harlan, you may recall, was the person who claimed that over 7,000 Den members had been surveyed regarding the Pauley renovation. The "results" of that survey led the Athletic Department to try to put the students along the end line rather than the sidelines after the renovation.
He may also be the person responsible for giving Men's Basketball Coach Steve Alford the ridiculous buyout.
When Harlan left to take the AD job at the University of South Florida, Josh Rebholz was promoted to Harlan's old job and Rebholz's team is focused on improving the game day experience for Bruin fans.
This survey is the third time we've seen the Athletic Department ask fans for feedback since Rebholz took over. That's a trend, my friends. The first time was in July when they asked for feedback on Twitter. The second time was after each home football game. (While that's technically six additional times, we will count the post-game surveys once). The after-season survey is the third time.
In the article, I wrote mentioning the request for feedback, many commenters appeared to doubt that the Athletic Department was really interested in listening to fans. I replied by writing that we needed to "Trust, but verify".
Well, now that the Morgan Center has publicly released the survey results, it is an excellent time to verify by analyzing the survey results.
The highest priority item for Football Season Ticket Holders is Gameday Parking. 94.6% of respondents rated Gameday Parking as Very Important or Important. Question Three of the survey asked:
Q3: What do you recommend UCLA focuses on to improve the Fan Experience for 2015?
1 = Most Important | 13 = Least Important
Gameday Parking was the top priority with an average score of 3.2.
Question Four attempted to delve even deeper about parking by asking about individual elements of the parking experience including proximity to the stadium, priority parking, ease of entry and exit, directions and signage, the Parsons Lot and shuttle experience, and the cost of parking.
While the Parsons Lot experience showed the smallest percentage very satisfied or satisfied, 59% said it wasn't applicable. Having used the Parsons Lot once myself several years ago, I would NEVER do it again. So, I would fall into either the dissatisfied or not applicable. I understand, though, why the Parsons Lot would rate low. It's hell to get back to that lot after a game with the long line of fans waiting for a bus.
Much more importantly, the Cost of Parking was only satisfactory to about 31% of respondents and was dissatisfactory to almost 44%. Well, duh. Recently, the cost to park at a UCLA football game seems to have increased quicker than you can say the word "park"! It wasn't that long ago that parking was still only $5 per game, which was reasonable. It's now up to $25 per game adding another $150 to the cost for season ticket holders.
UCLA needs to follow the lead of Angels owner Arte Moreno who immediately lowered parking prices when he purchased the team. It doesn't need to return to the $5 level, but anything north of $20 per game is unreasonable.
Speaking of unreasonable, let's talk about the other thing fans found unreasonable: ticket prices. Almost 96% of survey respondents said that ticket prices were very important or important. It was the second most important area for improvement (right behind Gameday Parking) with a score of 4.24.
This past season, the total cost for 2 season tickets jumped from $505 in 2013 to a whopping $737. That a 46% increase in just one year. Sure, this season, we played Stanford, Oregon and Just$c at home, but we played 6 home games in both 2013 and 2014. Was a 46% increase really justified? Well, considering that two of those three games were losses and that all three of our losses were at home. I say there is absolutely no way a 46% price increase was justified.
Historically, the cost for season tickets has dropped in years when we play $c at the Mausoleum. With a six game 2015 home schedule that include UVa, BYU, ASU, Cal (on a Thursday), Colorado, and Wazzu, there can be no doubt that 2015 football season ticket prices should drop by $100-150.
Two other areas that were considered very important or important by season ticket holders were restrooms and fan behavior. I'm not exactly sure what can be done about restrooms nor does the survey try to go more in-depth. Are the lines too long? Are they gross and disgusting? I'm not sure as I'm usually able to avoid them inside the Rose Bowl.
The survey doesn't go into a lot of detail regarding fan behavior either. On one hand, I know that the Athletic Department added a number to contact stadium staff, starting with the second home game this season. So that should help for major fan behavior problems. Of course, it won't eliminate the "problems" caused by fans like myself who think we should all stand up and be loud, but the lack of more information in the survey on this makes analyzing the topic of "fan behavior" more difficult.
The survey also shows that respondents seem to be satisfied with the Rose Bowl staff and that very few respondents bother with the much-promoted Fan Zone. Perhaps the Fan Zone should be done away with to increase parking closer to the Rose Bowl.
On a final note, 29% of respondents said they get their UCLA sports info from websites like this one, but I find it hard to believe the 48% of them still get their info from newspapers. Perhaps there's an age gap there. I don't know.
But we here at Bruins Nation were quite happy to see that more folks rely on "Fan Websites" than on the official Facebook, Twitter or Instagram feeds.
All in all, this survey showed what season ticket holders should already know. This year's prices for tickets and parking were way too high and need to be adjusted next season. With that information, we anxiously wait to see if the Morgan Center truly is listening to fan feedback.