Schools add amenities to make end-zone seats more attractive

Nov 23, 2022, 1:00 PM | Updated: Nov 24, 2022, 6:20 am
Mississippi State placekicker Massimo Biscardi, right, reaches out to receive congratulatory handsh...

Mississippi State placekicker Massimo Biscardi, right, reaches out to receive congratulatory handshakes from attendees in the Mississippi State Gridiron Club after Mississippi State's win in an NCAA college football game against East Tennessee State, Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022, in Starkville, Miss. The end zones are not necessarily where you will find the cheap seats anymore at college football games. Several colleges have tried making end-zone seating more attractive by turning it into a premium experience that includes such amenities as access to indoor clubs with expanded food and beverage options. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

(AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

              Mississippi State fans stand and watch an NCAA college football game against Georgia in the outside patio of the Gridiron Club at Davis Wade Stadium on the Starkville, Miss., campus, Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022. The end zones are not necessarily where you will find the cheap seats anymore at college football games. Several colleges have tried making end-zone seating more attractive by turning it into a premium experience that includes such amenities as access to indoor clubs with expanded food and beverage options. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
            
              Members of Mississippi State’s Gridiron Club prepare for an NCAA college football game between Georgia and Mississippi State in Starkville, Miss., Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022. The end zones are not necessarily where you will find the cheap seats anymore at college football games. Several colleges have tried making end-zone seating more attractive by turning it into a premium experience that includes such amenities as access to indoor clubs with expanded food and beverage options. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
            
              Mississippi State Gridiron Club members and their guests congratulate players following the team's win in an NCAA college football game against East Tennessee State, Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022, in Starkville, Miss. The end zones are not necessarily where you will find the cheap seats anymore at college football games. Several colleges have tried making end-zone seating more attractive by turning it into a premium experience that includes such amenities as access to indoor clubs with expanded food and beverage options. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
            
              Early arriving fans occupy take their seats in one of the 18 loge boxes in Mississippi State’s south end zone, Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022, prior to an NCAA college football game against East Tennessee State in Starkville. The end zones are not necessarily where you will find the cheap seats anymore at college football games. Several colleges have tried making end-zone seating more attractive by turning it into a premium experience that includes such amenities as access to indoor clubs with expanded food and beverage options. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
            
              Members of Mississippi State’s Gridiron Club begin to occupy the spacious facility to view an NCAA college football game between Georgia and Mississippi State in Starkville, Miss., Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022. The end zones are not necessarily where you will find the cheap seats anymore at college football games. Several colleges have tried making end-zone seating more attractive by turning it into a premium experience that includes such amenities as access to indoor clubs with expanded food and beverage options. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
            
              Mississippi State placekicker Massimo Biscardi, right, reaches out to receive congratulatory handshakes from attendees in the Mississippi State Gridiron Club after Mississippi State's win in an NCAA college football game against East Tennessee State, Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022, in Starkville, Miss. The end zones are not necessarily where you will find the cheap seats anymore at college football games. Several colleges have tried making end-zone seating more attractive by turning it into a premium experience that includes such amenities as access to indoor clubs with expanded food and beverage options. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

Wisconsin season-ticket holder Kim Heiman had heard all the stories about the drawbacks of sitting in end zone seats.

He realized the potential viewing obstructions that come from sitting behind a goal post. But when he saw Wisconsin’s plan to turn the south end zone into a premium experience, Heiman bought a package.

Now he believes he has one of the best seats in the house.

“When you get a chance to sit in these seats and look at the field view we have from here, it’s an excellent view,” Heiman said. “There’s nobody obstructing your view. You can see every play develop. It’s fantastic.”

Wisconsin’s situation isn’t unique. Several colleges have added amenities to make their end zone seats more attractive — and expensive.

“The days of the cheap seats right on the end zones with poor views have now changed dramatically,” said Sharianne Walker, who teaches a course in stadium and arena management as a professor of sport management and dean of the college of business at Western New England University. “It’s more of a premium seating opportunity.”

Turning such seats into premium experiences helps colleges appeal to fans at a time when it’s increasingly difficult to attract spectators. Average attendance for Football Bowl Subdivision games has dropped every year since 2014 and fell to 39,848 last season, its lowest since 1981.

Seats in the end zones traditionally are tough to sell.

“When you find there might be distressed inventory — seats not selling or not at the level the university would want — you find out what creatively you can do with that space so you still create a great home-field advantage,” Arkansas deputy athletics director of external engagement Rick Thorpe said.

Wisconsin senior associate athletic director Jason King said fan surveys revealed a need for premium seating opportunities giving spectators the option to stay outside rather than spending the entire game in a suite.

“That would allow people to have the amenities of premium space but still be in the bowl and enjoy the traditions that kind of make our stadium really special,” King said.

Wisconsin removed 7,190 standard end zone seats and replaced them with 2,734 seats that could be sold at higher prices. Fans there have wider seats with more legroom, dedicated restrooms and access to expanded food and drinks in an indoor club area.

Prices for season packages run from $700 for standing-room patio access to $4,500 per person for the top-of-the-line boxes that seat four to six people each. Field-level boxes get fans as close to the action as possible.

Wisconsin officials said they sold out all 2,734 seats to bring in $6 million in revenue.

Arkansas performed a $160 million renovation of Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium in 2019 that included a north end zone addition with 70 loge boxes, 32 suites and about 2,400 club seats. Fans with indoor club access can watch the Razorbacks walk from the locker room to the field before the game.

Mississippi State’s south end zone has 18 loge boxes seating six people each that cost $10,000 per box and offer access to an indoor fieldhouse with a full-service buffet. Fans who already have tickets for seats elsewhere in the stadium can pay an extra $850 per year to access a field-level club with an outdoor terrace allowing them to stand in the back of the north end zone.

“The players when they score will come over and high-five fans,” Mississippi State executive senior associate athletic director Mike Richey said.

Walker noted the indoor clubs that come with many of these premium end zone seats provide a sports-bar type of atmosphere.

“You think about younger alumni coming back,” he said. “They may not be able to quite afford the suite yet, but maybe they can afford the end zone premium seating and they can visit their buddies and network.”

Richey said Mississippi State’s suites on the east side of the stadium cost $50,000 per year and fit up to 30 people. The premium end zone seats still offer indoor club access at a lower price.

“What we’ve discovered over the last eight or 10 years is everybody has a different expectation about what their viewing experience is going to be and how they’re going to enjoy the event,” Richey said. “For some people, especially younger folks, it’s not so much about, ‘I want to be on the 50-yard line’ or ‘I want to be lower level,’ or ‘I want to be at a certain place.’ It’s more about the social aspect. It’s more about having room to move and not be tied down to a 22-inch piece of metal on a bleacher.”

It’s also about having the opportunity for indoor access, particularly at northern stadiums where weather becomes an issue.

“We have hot weather in September and cold weather in November, so most of the season there’s a reason to go inside,” said Iowa State senior associate athletics director Ryan McGuire, whose school opened its south end zone club in 2015.

Yet there’s still the matter of making sure the packages offer good views of the action.

Richey says fans like the loge boxes at Mississippi State because they’re close enough to the field that players can hear what those spectators are saying. At Wisconsin, Heiman got a 3D presentation from school officials showing the favorable perspective he’d have from his seat.

Heiman says he got everything he was promised.

“You can sell these seats for premium dollars, for the luxury that you have in them,” Heiman said.

That’s exactly what school officials want to hear.

___

AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://twitter.com/ap_top25. Sign up for the AP’s college football newsletter: https://tinyurl.com/mrxhe6f2

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

murders...
Associated Press

Renton man gets 10 years in prison in drug trafficking case

A federal judge has sentenced a Renton, Washington man to 10 years in prison for his role in a violent drug distribution ring, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Seattle.
12 hours ago
Associated Press

Police: Brazil school shooter wore swastika, planned attack

BRASILIA, Brazil (AP) — A former student armed with a semiautomatic pistol and a revolver who killed three people and wounded 13 in two schools in Brazil had a swastika pinned to his vest and had been planning the attacks for two years, police said. The shootings took place Friday at a public school with […]
2 days ago
Jorge Rodriguez, from the Venezuelan government delegation, center, speaks to the media as he arriv...
Associated Press

Venezuela’s gov, opponents resume talks; US eases sanction

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Venezuela’s government and its opposition on Saturday agreed to create a U.N.-managed fund to finance health, food and education programs for the poor, while the Biden administration eased some oil sanctions on the country in an effort to boost the newly restarted talks between the sides. The agreement signed in Mexico […]
2 days ago
FILE - View of the Jose Antonio Anzoategui oil complex in Barcelona, Anzoategui State, Venezuela, J...
Associated Press

Biden eases Venezuela sanctions as opposition talks resume

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration on Saturday eased some oil sanctions on Venezuela in an effort to support newly restarted negotiations between President Nicolás Maduro’s government and its opposition. The Treasury Department is allowing Chevron to resume “limited” energy production in Venezuela after years of sanctions that have dramatically curtailed oil and gas profits […]
2 days ago
Pakistan's former Prime Minister and opposition leader Imran Khan, center in seated, addresses to h...
Associated Press

Pakistan’s ex-PM Khan says his party to quit all assemblies

ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistan’s former premier Imran Khan said Saturday his party was quitting the country’s regional and national assemblies, as he made his first public appearance since being wounded in a gun attack earlier this month. Khan, a former cricket star turned politician, was ousted in a no-confidence vote in parliament in April. He […]
2 days ago
FILE - This file booking photo provided by the Delaware Department of Justice shows Barry Croft Jr....
Associated Press

Judge denies bid for new trial in Whitmer kidnapping case

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — A federal judge has denied a new trial request by two men convicted of conspiring to kidnap Michigan’s Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. Lawyers for Adam Fox and Barry Croft Jr. alleged misconduct by a juror and unfairness by U.S. District Judge Robert Jonker following their conviction by a federal jury […]
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.
Schools add amenities to make end-zone seats more attractive