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The University of Tennessee and athletics director Danny White announced this week plans to modernize its football ticket pricing model.
UT press release:
Close to 50 percent of existing season-ticket holders will experience a total cost reduction
Tennessee Athletics has finalized plans to implement a more simplified and modernized football ticket purchasing process beginning with the 2022 season.
The impending changes stem from several months of thoughtful analysis and consideration of fan feedback, including requests to create a more equitable and affordable pricing model throughout Neyland Stadium. Similar fan input led to the development of multiple new and exciting fan experience amenities/renovations set to debut next football season.
Many season-ticket holders, beginning in the fall of 2022, will experience a price reduction. Access to season tickets also will be expanded to more of the Tennessee fanbase, as some areas within Neyland Stadium will not require an annual donation. These no-donation areas create a pathway for a new generation of Tennessee fans to experience the unmatched pageantry of gameday on Rocky Top.
Under this new and more equitable model, ticket holders seated in the same section of Neyland Stadium all will be paying the same, fair amount.
Affected account holders will receive an email on Wednesday, Sept. 22, with details specific to their seats. And throughout the coming weeks, Tennessee Athletics staff will proactively reach out to affected account holders to talk through these changes and discuss options.
Multiple new premium areas are scheduled for construction as outlined during this summer’s launch of the My All Campaign. Sections impacted by new planned premium areas include the lower west (sections R-W, rows 1-22) and the upper north (sections YY7-YY9). Current season-ticket holders in these sections will have the right of first refusal for seats in this revamped space. There will be increases to the per-seat gift requirements coinciding with the enhanced amenities.
Fan experience upgrades accompanying this phase of renovations include two new videoboards on the north and south ends of the stadium, a lower-west premium club, enhanced chairback seating in multiple lower-west sections and a party deck social gathering space on the stadium’s upper north end.
“From what I’ve heard thus far, I believe our fans are excited about the upgrades taking place at Neyland Stadium and the new areas we’re introducing next season,” Tennessee Vice Chancellor/Director of Athletics Danny White said. “With the lay of the land changing in several sections, it’s important to me that we communicate with our ticket holders throughout this process. They’ll have the rest of this season to assess which seating options work best for them.”
Under the new simplified pricing model, fans will select from one of six general bowl zones or five premium zones throughout the stadium, with each zone carrying a specific donation amount required to purchase season tickets. The aforementioned no-donation/family sections also will be offered for fans seeking an alternative to seats carrying a gift requirement.
Implementation of this new model aligns Tennessee with several of its peers throughout the country and also enables Tennessee Athletics to maximize Neyland Stadium’s unique ability to generate championship resources that impact each of UT’s 20 varsity sport programs.
“Just like our fans, we expect all of our teams to contend for championships,” White said. “In full transparency, our athletic department has no driver of revenue more powerful than Neyland Stadium. In order for us to elevate our budget—catching up to many of our peers—and meet our lofty goals across all sports, we need to effectively capitalize on the power of that stadium and the strength and passion of our fanbase. It all works together to propel our teams to new heights.”
ATHLETICS ALSO INTRODUCING NEW TENNESSEE FUND PRIORITY SEATING MODEL
In keeping with efforts to modernize operations, cultivate a new generation of fans and resource Tennessee’s athletic programs at a championship level, the Tennessee Fund also is making adjustments to priority-seating benefits tied to football donations.
Currently, donations required to purchase Tennessee football tickets permit donors access to premium benefits at events for other UT teams, such as basketball, baseball and softball. In other words, a football-specific donation has afforded “umbrella” privileges extending to multiple sports.
In order to expand access and opportunities at events for sports other than football to more fans, the aforementioned umbrella coverage will be discontinued beginning with the 2022 renewal period for each sport.
Fans interested in accessing certain seating sections or premium areas at Tennessee women’s basketball games, for example, will soon be required to make the specific donation designated for that access at Thompson-Boling Arena. A separate donation will be required to acquire that same level of access at men’s basketball games. The same process will apply for UT baseball and softball.
Many of Tennessee’s peer institutions have been operating under a similar non-umbrella model for years, enabling them to unlock sport- and venue-specific revenue opportunities that Tennessee is not currently capitalizing on. Thus, several of those peers have developed operating budgets that outpace Tennessee’s.
“Since very early in my tenure here, I’ve been attuned to our need to offer increased fan access and also modernize and maximize the revenue opportunities at our athletic venues,” White said. “For sports like softball, baseball and basketball, we’ve been selling ourselves short. Those teams have performed at a level that has prompted demand, but opportunities for new ticket holders to join in has been too limited for too many of our fans.”
Coinciding with these changes are comprehensive repricing plans for Tennessee football and basketball, which result in donation and ticket-price decreases across significant sections of those venues. Specific basketball repricing information will be finalized in the months to come, and the upcoming 2021-22 basketball season will not be impacted.
Tennessee Athletics staff members are available to discuss these changes over the phone (865-656-1200) or via the live chat function on Tennessee.Fund.org during business hours.