My thoughts on the new donation policy

I have been trying to find the words to express my feelings about the new Razorback baseball ticket pricing and donation policy. It is even worse than I had feared.

College baseball has long been a welcoming (and reasonably priced) venue for families. Many of my friends have long been able to take their entire family to games. (These families often can’t afford tickets for the whole family to football.) I doubt that many of them will be able to afford the required baseball donation. Our tailgate bunch consists of many teachers, not the denizens of executive board rooms. And teaching is not exactly a highly paid profession.

My father and I began donating to the baseball program in 1995. We continued that donation, only missing a couple of years in the early 2000s. I took over the donations after his death.

Before I moved to Fayetteville in the fall of 2010, I would typically attend two games each weekend. When I decided to move, it was in part to be able to attend more games.

Since 1995 I have donated $9350 to baseball, but that means nothing now. I need to come up with $3000 per year to keep my seat. I have to wonder how many of those buying the high dollar seats will be there for every single game of the season, or will make sure to find someone to use their tickets when they miss one home series per year?

I’m getting ready to attend an event that I’ve anticipated for almost one and a half years. I’ve been incredibly excited to attend this national event. Now I’m just sad.

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Well, outside of some big series, there’s always been empty seats between the dugouts, now, were those BM donors missing games, or those grandfathered in? Like most change, this will smooth out over time.

I moved from my home state, Arkansas in 1958 as there were virtually no jobs in the state at that time and I fondly remember the games I saw at WMS. Tickets in those days were about five bucks and I saw Notre Dame and SMU play in the Cotton Bowl, regular season, for 6 bucks. That night I watched Arkansas and TCU play in Frank’s first season for five bucks.

I realize this is 2021 but when I read the details for tickets for baseball I was actually shocked. At my age, I would never even consider a donation of lots of money for the rights to buy tickets. So I personally write myself off as an old goat who is out of sync with most of the world.

The new donation policy no longer splits donations among the various sports, as of this year. So anyone who is a BM donor receives special treatment for all sports.

I knew this would happen a few years ago when talking to a Broyles Matthew’s donor who wanted good baseball seats. He learned there were none and there were folks holding them who were not donors. That is tough for the AD to explain.

It was about the same time that I realized the AD did not want to expand the seating in a meaningful way.

Supply and demand is the huge key in fund raising. I talked to Hunter after the TCU victory in the regional about sellouts. I suggested more seats were needed. It was clear he preferred hard sellouts. I don’t blame him altogether but this is tough on many.

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@ClayHenry, I wonder how many of those people will be behind the plate for games when it is 40° and the wind is howling.

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@Baumbastic_Hawg when I read your post my brother in law was just talking about the new donation requirement. He has had the same seats for years and to keep them his donation will have to more than double. He just moved from NWA to Hot Springs Village and won’t renew but it makes him mad for all of you that were loyal throughout the years.

I see this hurting attendance long term.

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As Clay mentioned, I’m sure this has been bandied about for several year in early planning stages. 2020 may have speeded up the long range plan to a short term stage. I would guess the biggest monetary benefit to the U of A will be BMS upgrading to BMG. For a long period of time, BMS donors have had great football seats and been able to keep them. At the present time, that level doesn’t get good baseball or basketball seats. So they have no incentive to upgrade, even though they could easily do it.

As in Clay’s example, there may be a large number of (individuals or small companies) who would be willing to go from Silver to Gold if they could get great baseball seats. Next move will be in basketball where currently, BMS seats are not all good, especially for relatively new donors.

I could be wrong, but I doubt there will be a lot of jumps to BMP. That’s a pretty hefty jump, even for the well-off individuals and small businesses.

About the same, people will move there by the third inning.

I don’t blame people for being upset, but I agree with rice pig. MOST of the time people can move into good seats by the third inning. On cold nights you can get there by the middle of the first.

I understand the economics, but I also understand there should be some value for loyalty. Maybe it’s time to add a second story of luxury boxes & seats for the big donors.

BWS is perhaps the best atmosphere in college baseball. I hate to see that disappear. It might with this.

BTW, this doesn’t affect me personally. I live in LR & only get to BWS for a couple of series per year. Still don’t want to see people like Marty lose their seats. (And surely they’ll leave a spot behind the 3rd base dugout for Hognoxious.)

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Marty…I just saw this donation chart a few minutes ago, and immediately my thoughts turned to you. Primarily because I know you have been a loyal and true baseball fan at Baum since the beginning. As you know, I don’t get to many baseball games, but I do know there is a core of fans who have been there through, as you point out, sketchy weather and rain delays against sometime obscure opponents. I feel terrible for those fans…and to me, you represent them.

I understand the business dilemma, but I strongly fear that the atmosphere at Baum will suffer from this. I think, given a chance, most long-term fans would live with a significant rise in ticket prices to stay where they are. But popping them for a donation (on top of tickets) that is 3 to 10 times what it has been…well, I don’t like it. Surely, a large number of long-term season ticket holders will be forced to become former season ticket holders for Johnnie-come-latelys with big wallets that want to ride the coattails of the now established program that delivers Top 10 teams every season.

Someone will have to teach them - when they actually come, of course (wonder how many of them will show up for a Tuesday game against Louisiana Monroe when it’s 40 degrees outside?) - the traditions of Baum…the chicken dance…when to wear your beer mug hat…when to say “This…is…Baseball!”)…that is, if they can be bothered to learn such “hick” things.

It doesn’t hurt me directly, because I won’t be able to get to many games. But I really do hate it for the long term, loyal fans that are going to get pushed aside by this.

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There’s not a good answer. UA athletics is a $125 million business, and that’s only going to go up. So HY has to find money beyond what TV pays the SEC. (That would be the fourth highest budget in the Pac-12; we’re 10th in the SEC, 12th once UT and OU join).

So you go where the money is. As Clay noted, big donors have been blocked out of prime BWS seats, and you knew that couldn’t last. HY decided to rip off the Band-aid now and cause all the pain at once, and loyal fans like Marty are feeling that pain now.

Will they show up in February when it’s colder than…? I guess we’ll find out. A lot of the current fans don’t show up in February either.

I understand it. But I don’t like it.

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You said it would ‘smooth out over time’. I don’t think the donation levels are going to go down. Fans will be left ‘out in the cold’ that have been going to games in the past.

I can certainly understand the pain this is causing many of the fans who really helped create the Baum experience.

One of the first things I did when I moved to NWA in 2005 was buy season baseball tickets. Over the years since, I increased my Foundation donation designated to baseball in an attempt to get better seats. But the previous policy would only allow me to improve seats if others did not renew, no matter how much I donated. So I did find this frustrating.

So looking at it selfishly, this new policy makes me happy, as I should be able to improve my seats. I definitely will not get worse.

And if I were to be considered one of the “big donors”, this is one of them who will still be there every game, rain, shine, snow and ice.

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I now see your point, Doc. I’ve decided to pay up. However, a 60 percent increase is small compared to some I’m hearing.

If they’ve been making at least a small donation, they’ll still be able to retain their season tickets, they’ll just be further down the foul lines.

Yep, I’m a relatively new season ticket holder, my donation level says good seats, but it hasn’t worked that way. I’ll be at 90% of the games, just like every year, be it in 101, or 105.

If I want to retain my seat, my total donation will need to increase by 250%.

The more that I think about it, the more I am convinced that the change in donation strategy (lumping all donations together instead of allocating them to individual sports) was to allow the BM donors to snatch up prime seating.

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Exactly @Baumbastic_Hawg

Matt’s story says there are 1200 Broyles Matthews donors. I thought it might be a little higher than that given the four big sections they get in RRS. But they can easily fill those main sections at BWS if they buy 2-4 each.

I’m sure some of the moneybags guys have been bending HY’s ear that they can’t get better seats, and money talks.