Fairness, Loyalty and Athletic Excellence
By Charlie Barnes, Executive Director - Seminole Boosters
Florida State's Athletic Board has voted for a long anticipated adjustment in FSU's ticket-priority policy, a proposal submitted by the Board of Directors of Seminole Boosters, a proposal which has been developed and fine-tuned over a very long time.
This vote has two primary effects. One will affect relatively few Boosters and season-ticket holders; the second will involve every Seminole Booster.
The latter effect is that Seminole Booster donor levels for 2001 will increase across the board by 10 percent. To be a Golden Chief, a donor will have to give $5,500. To join Boosters at the Iron Arrow level will require $55, where it is now only $50.
The Athletic Board does not set Seminole Boosters' contribution levels only the National Booster Board of Directors can do that. But, to show strong support for reform of the ticket-priority system, our board agreed to the first increase in Booster contribution levels in 25 years.
Why raise the donor levels? For our entire Athletic Program to sustain excellence indefinitely requires more money.
Will raising the donor levels achieve that goal? No. The Seminole Boosters will also announce a major capital campaign in September. The campaign will require $80 million or more, raised over five years, to put Florida State's entire athletic program in the same competitive profile as universities that compete for national honors in all men's and women's sports.
Let's talk about the adjustment to the ticket-priority system. All big schools assign tickets, both the number of tickets you can buy and the location, through some sort of priority system. Every school has its own way. At Alabama, for example, if you want priority seats, it's $1,000 per seat contribution per year. Clean, no fuss, no administrative overhead. Just send a check.
At Florida State, we have historically done it differently. Loyalty and longevity are virtues that resonate with special intensity in the hearts of Florida State people.
Any system will have its pattern of abuses. Schools that place first priority on annual contributions receive complaints from fans who are moved aside to make room for this year's high rollers.
The greater problem at Florida State would seem to be that we have too many tickets in the hands of too few people. We have too many people who are forced to sit outside the priority areas for which their contribution qualifies them. Too many people who make little or no contribution, who buy their season tickets privately through a third party, occupy too many priority seats.
While the adjustment will help increase revenues, it will not cause a wrenching change. Seventy percent of our 17,000 Seminole Boosters will not be affected at all. Those season-ticket holders who are affected will be notified individually, well in advance of next year's season-ticket mailing, and told how they can come into compliance with the new guidelines.
The number of priority season tickets that one donor can purchase will change. The areas of the stadium considered to be "priority" will be expanded, requiring that ticket holders in those areas make some contribution. There will be grandfather provisions, allowing ample time - years actually - to bring each affected ticket holder's contribution status into compliance.
Years ago, our university decided to compete at the highest level in everything. In athletics, we want to compete for national championships in every sport.
We are blessed with visionary leadership from the top, from both Dave Hart and Sandy D'Alemberte. The blessing of Bobby Bowden probably inhabits a category all its own. We enjoy the loyalty of committed Boosters and a highly effective Booster organization.
Our puzzle is assembled. The missing piece is the money, and we're searching for it every day. We're attacking the financial needs from three directions: first, all loyal Seminoles will be asked to participate through our upcoming capital campaign. Then the 10-percent increase will be shared by all Booster categories, and, finally, the point-priority system will be adjusted.