Donor-based seating requires basketball fans to donate $500 for prime-seat season tickets

Kiera Manion-Fischer

To reserve the best seats in the M.A.C. Center, basketball season ticket holders must now make at least a $500 donation to the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics in addition to the ticket price.

The new donor-based ticket policy applies to the 460 chair-backed seats along one side of the M.A.C. Center, considered by some to be the most comfortable seats in the building.

Ticket holders asked questions and expressed concerns about the new policy in an athletics department forum July 11.

Director of Athletics Laing Kennedy said the purpose of the policy was to create new revenue in order to renovate the M.A.C. Center. However, he said the department’s financial situation is good.

“We are moving to a donor-based seating policy to provide additional revenue streams so we can keep building our athletic facilities,” he said.

Donors become members of the Blue and Gold Athletics Fund, which provides financial aid to student athletes, but Kennedy said the fund works like a bank account where all athletic department gifts go.

That way, Kennedy said money won’t be taken away from scholarships.

Kennedy said current chair-backed season ticket holders who choose not to make the donation will be guaranteed seats on the other side of the M.A.C., where the seats are bleachers.

For every two seats in the chair-backed section, the $500 donation will be required, and fans can purchase a maximum of six tickets. Although required, the donation is a separate transaction from the cost of the tickets.

For example, Kennedy said if fans buy one ticket, they pay the $500, and if they buy three, they pay $1,000.

A season ticket for chair-backed seats costs $247 for the public and $221 for faculty and staff.

Alumnus Vic Binben is a current season ticket holders. His seats are across from the chair-backed ones, which are currently sold out. Binben said he is on the waiting list for the chair-backed seats and will probably make the donation.

He said those seats are much more comfortable.

“If you’re sitting here,” he said about the seats, “nobody’s knees are in your back.”

Binben said the additional revenue is probably necessary to improve the basketball program and remain competitive with other universities.

Alumnus Randy Ristow said he understands the athletic department’s need for funding, but he said many season ticket holders, such as himself, are retired and on fixed incomes and may not be able to afford the donation.

“I’m a big basketball fan and a big Kent State supporter,” he said. “So I’m going to do what I can.”

Alumna Patsy Bryner said she’s not happy with the policy.

“I started out with season tickets 30 years ago when nobody came and nobody wanted my seats,” she said. “Now they want my seats, and I resent that.”

She’s not sure if she’s going to make the donation.

“I don’t like forced giving,” she said.

Season ticket renewals along with the donation are due Sept. 17.

Contact principal reporter Kiera Manion-Fischer at [email protected].