In case you're not on the e-mail list...and haven't wanted to, or had the chance to read other Purdue outlets, Burke and the athletic department have decided to add a mandatory donation to all of the good seats in Ross-Ade Stadium.
Burke noted on GBI that he's heard loud and clear that he's been too cheap...and now says it's time to pony up so Purdue can compete.
I'm glad that he got the message...but it took nearly losing Matt Painter after underpaying he and his staff, and paying bargain basement salaries for the entire football staff before he understood...but I kinda think he still doesn't quite get it; nor does the athletic department.
I can only speak from my own perspective- Not only am I cheap by nature, but also my money is tight. Having two young kids and running not one, but two businesses which are struggling, affects all of my opinions and financial decisions.
I sat in section 119 from 2000 until 2008. My son (LBD) was two, when my wife and I, along with much of our family, decided to stop buying season football tickets. The next year, I spent my money on basketball tickets and a few football tickets for me and my family. That's continued until recently, when I've had multiple people offer me tickets to various games; which my family and I have appreciated a ton.
So an additional fee per seat in between the 30 yard lines really doesn't affect a person like me directly...but I still don't like the thinking...and think the timing is poor.
The Boiler fans that I know best have had a similar change in their spending during the last few years. I think almost everyone has been affected by the economy and has been forced to re-assess how they spend their entertainment dollar. For me and those closest to me, spending a ton of money for a day in which I left the stadium disgruntled was a waste...a waste of time and money. But I kept going at a more-regular rate than many of those around me. In fact, I've actually found out that it's been difficult to give tickets away...let alone ask someone to buy some with me.
I think I'd be classified as dead-center middle class American, financially. I feel blessed to live in the neighborhood that I do and to do what I do for a living...but money is perpetually tighter for me than I'd like it to be. When Painter's contract was re-negotiated, I responded by giving money to the JPC and buying two 1/3 season tickets (while splitting them with two friends). The cost of Painter's salary was worthwhile because we knew what we were getting and felt and still feel that he belongs at Purdue...and the staff around him needs to be the guys he wants/needs courtside.
Painter had just come off of one of the most-consistent five year stretches in the history of Purdue basketball...those teams averaged 25 wins/season and were generally near the top of the conference. Painter earned the raise.
As much as I like Darrell Hazell as a hire along with his assistant coaches, this situation is not the same. Purdue's season ticket woes will be solved by winning...plain and simple. When Tiller won with regularity, beat good teams and was competing game-in, game-out, Purdue fans responded by buying tickets and showing up on campus. When Purdue's football team was getting hammered by the upper third of the conference (except aOSU, for some reason) and wetting itself versus good non-con opponents, Purdue fans reacted in kind as well.
Purdue fans, for better or worse, are pragmatic and logical...and I'd bet that many right now are thinking, "I'm rooting for these guys to succeed, hoping for it...but want to see proof."
I'll speak personally again for a moment.
In 2000, I had just moved back from the East coast. Right away, it was priority for me to get season tickets...so my brother and I each bought them and had one rotating seat for a guest. The next year, the rotating seat went away as we got a block of four seats. The year after that, we had a block of six seats and the year after that, our family had eight seats together. In 2008, I stopped getting season tickets as did my brother and his wife...in 2010, none of my family had full-season tickets.
Sure, coming back for two or three games a season isn't a killer financially for two tickets...but it stings for three or four; And doing that while dragging small kids and a wife as Purdue gets beaten up isn't much of a fun day...and isn't a gratifying way for me to spend the money. So LBD and I get to a few games generally, my wife and daughter will go to one additionally and one of my pals is kind enough to get me tickets to a few more. I thank God I get to go to these games without having to calculate if I wasted too much on a Saturday.
But if I was spending $375, $500 or more per ticket for a season, I'd probably be pausing right now...even if a third of the cost was tax deductible.
I know I'm going to catch hell for this post...I've read the message boards and twitter, and many Purdue fans are piling on other Purdue fans for having a similar opinion, but I am what I am. If you want to call me a fair weather fan because I don't think it makes a ton of sense to ask the biggest, most consistent supporters of the program to foot the bill for Burke's wasted four year experiment with Hope, fine. If you want to compare Purdue's newly-installed fee with other schools like aOSU, UM, Nebraska, PSU and Wisconsin, OK...I still don't think the comparison makes much sense.
Burke, who is a smart guy by the way (no, I'm not being sarcastic), thinks this is the right way to go...I hope he's right. If he's wrong, he'll fade into retirement and let his successor pick up the pieces of losing long-time season ticket holders or deal with the drop in revenue of many downgrading their seats. If he's right and people are OK with this fee AND Hazell wins quickly, he'll look like a genius and Purdue historians will judge him very well.
The thing I don't get about the math is this: A big chunk of the ever-rising BTN TV revenue has obviously been going to renovations to Mackey and Painter's overall staff raise. But, Burke assured fans that there was a war chest that had been raised to help pay for Hope's exit and Hazell's entry...it sure doesn't feel like that war chest was anything more than scraping the last few dollars out of the Athletic Department's savings...and hoping that this additional fee will be broadly accepted. Sure, Purdue's revenue stream from football has been shrinking yearly; we've been talking about this for two years. But, the university at large takes one of, if not the highest percentage, of TV revenues from the athletic department in the conference...and still expects the athletic department to compete- So perhaps the blame for this decision lands squarely on the Board of Trustees for distributing a disproportionate amount of athletic revenue out of the that department.
Everyone's feeling the pinch in this economy...and if you don't believe in trickle down economics, talk for a few minutes to someone who owns or manages a restaurant near Ross-Ade; I did quite a bit this fall. Purdue's awful showings versus Michigan and Wisconsin led to an empty Ross-Ade stadium and little traffic to commerce around the stadium in subsequent games. A demoralized fanbase bought fewer Ricardo Allen jerseys and fewer Duane Purvis burgers before and after the games...so if Hazell's rebuilding process isn't quick and promising, the athletic department's gamble could affect every business near the stadium adversely...yet again.
I think Hazell's the right guy for the job...and unlike J, I think he'll win after a season or so of changing the low-accountability and lower expectation culture within the program right now (J expects big things this fall, for the record).
As I often say here, I hope I'm wrong- I hope Burke's decision turns out to be very good...I hope J's prediction of 8 wins in 2013 is right on, or even a little low...and I hope me, my friends and family are all but forced to get a big block of season tickets once again in the very near future because the product on the field is undeniably-good.