Indiana fans battle for best season tickets
by Michael Pointer, USA TODAY Sports
Chris Smith knew that Indiana University basketball tickets were going to be hot this season, with the Hoosiers ranked No. 1 in the nation and marquee games such as Tuesday night’s against North Carolina.
What Smith didn’t know was exactly how to keep his season tickets in the same location at Assembly Hall as last season, or maybe even make them a little better.
Such are the mysteries of “Priority Points.”
It’s no secret that at the elite levels of college sports, where athletic department expenses range from about $50 to $130 million per year, schools such as IU pit donors against each other for access to better seats at games.
But that gets complicated as schools try to raise more and more money, while rewarding loyalty and keeping fans and even the school’s former athletes happy.
For non-students to sit in one of the 1,300 court level seats at Assembly Hall, it takes a donation of $5,000 to $20,000. Those donors can purchase two tickets.
To determine where 8,000 other non-students sit, IU uses a points-based system, often called “Priority Points,” a form of which is used by every other school in the Big Ten Conference.
IU awards points based on donations to various school programs and consecutive years buying tickets to not just basketball but football as well. It’s elaborate enough that there’s a monthly newsletter explaining it.
“I’m sure longtime supporters think you should weigh loyalty more,” IU deputy athletic director Scott Dolson said. “The people that give more probably think there should be more a balance with that. But I think people appreciate that it’s a transparent system. It’s not a ‘good old boy’ system that depends on who you know.”
Smith, who owns a mortgage company in Fishers, might disagree with the transparency part. He’s thankful just to have tickets, but frustrated, too. While IU is clear about how to earn points, donors don’t know where they rank.
This season, a point level that might have guaranteed prime seats at Assembly Hall just a couple of years ago now might tuck you under the balcony.
When Smith received a letter from IU earlier suggesting he … [For more on Indiana basketball fans battle for best season tickets, click here.]