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Nebraska kicks off to the Wisconsin Badgers to begin the Big Ten opener for both teams at Camp Randall Stadium. The University of Wisconsin hosted Nebraska in the Big Ten opener Saturday October 1, 2011 at Camp Randall Stadium. Steve Apps-State Journal.

Craig Schreiner

With all the summertime chaos going on in your life, it’s possible you didn’t have adequate time to digest a significant piece of data offered up recently by University of Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez.

He told members of the UW Athletic Board last month the renewal rate for general public season football tickets for the coming season was 97 percent.

Brian Moore, the ever-thorough assistant athletic director for ticket operations, subsequently bumped that up to 97.5.

That’s a darn good ratio — one any school in the country would love to have — especially when you know the UW Athletic Department received just more than $18 million in football ticket revenue for 2011 and that it’s projected to make a tick more than $88 million overall.

It’s a testament to a quality football product and its fan base that so many are willing to invest their time, money and energy to such a cause.

Still, it’s worth noting a couple of realities tucked inside the numbers:

• Even though the Badgers are the reigning two-time Big Ten Conference champions the renewal rate is actually down from 2011 when, according to Moore, it was 98.5 percent.

• Even though UW has played in back-to-back Rose Bowls and is seemingly equipped to get to another in 2012, tickets remain available for three non-conference games at Camp Randall Stadium. That includes 2,000-plus for the season opener vs. Northern Iowa on Sept. 1.

• Even though 68,502 general public and student season tickets have been sold — 2,066 more than last year — UW still hasn’t recouped all of the 3,855 season-ticket patrons whose response to a 7-6 overall record in 2008 was to jump ship in 2009 and ’10.

Moreover, despite three consecutive years with 10 or more victories — the longest streak of its kind in program history — 1,135 fewer season ticket-holders will watch the Badgers in 2012 than in 2006 when a record 69,637 watched the unveiling of the Bret Bielema coaching era.

It would be wise of Alvarez to keep this data in mind when he goes forward with his desire to reseat Camp Randall.

It probably won’t happen for a couple of years, but Alvarez feels strongly about giving fans a chance to upgrade their seats if they have the desire and the means. He said that of all the feedback he gets from season ticket-holders, the most repeated has to do with their inability to move to better locations.

When UW introduced its preferred seating plan for Camp Randall just over a decade ago, it wedded a point system based on loyalty — featuring years of continuous season-ticket patronage — with one predicated on an annual per-seat surcharge for locations between the 30-yard lines. A compilation of those totals determined your place in the stadium.

Any plan to reseat would almost certainly favor those willing and able to make large donations to UW Athletics. In that case, loyalty must be strongly preserved in some fashion or things could crumble in a hurry.

Alvarez said he intends to reseat the Kohl Center for men’s basketball before he does so at Camp Randall, which gives him time to find the meaning in those aforementioned numbers.

All it took was one so-so year for thousands of Badgers fans to pull the chute. Heck, it wasn’t even a losing season. Two championships and two Rose Bowls later, some of those empty seats still remain.

This is a project Alvarez should handle with the utmost care.


Contact Andy Baggot at abaggot@madison.com or 608-252-6175.

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