New Seating Policy Revealed

CLEMSON – Trying to create a fairer seating plan, while at the same time trying to keep up financially with Clemson's athletic competition throughout the South and the rising cost of tuition, IPTAY has finally caught up with the rest of the big-time programs and started a new seating plan that is based on years of membership and amount of donations.

Gone are the days of being able to get the best seats in Memorial Stadium for a measly $140 donation just because that IPTAY member has been paying dues some 40 years, while those that donate thousands of dollars annually are stuck in the upper deck and have the least desirable seats.

In other words, Clemson has joined the rest of society where the best things in life cost the most money.

"We're sensitive to the loyalty, we're sensitive to the longevity and we're sensitive to how this organization has manifested itself over years and years of a storied tradition," said Billy D'Andrea, senior associate athletic director for external affairs. "We know it's difficult balancing generosity and loyalty and longevity.

"Our organization really awarded generosity and longevity in the same breath. And now we're trying to use the IPTAY system to recognize those that are a little more generous. And certainly there will be some resistance to change in our organization."

Now, some those that are apart of the Heisman Level ($10,000 donated annually) no longer have to sit in the upper deck. There are actually three that currently have to sit up top.

The primary reasons for the new seating system are based squarely around money. But it's understandable considering that Clemson is heavily lacking in donations and contributions.

First, IPTAY pays for nearly 700 athletic scholarships. That means for every in-state athlete on scholarship, IPTAY has to pay $21,700 to cover that person's room, board, tuition and books. However, for every out-of-state student, that figure is increased dramatically to $33,400.

Also, Phase II of the WestZone Project is still tens of millions of dollars in the hole and is no where near close to being paid off. This extra three million a year in revenue will help pay those expenses.

Then there's the simple fact that all the other sports, including non-revenue, need help financially with budgets and facilities. This is a must in order to keep up with Clemson's neighboring schools.

"A $140 (donation) doesn't help you a whole hell of a lot," said new IPTAY president James Bostic.

By increasing the necessary donated dollar amount in order to have the prime seats, Clemson is no longer the only school in top 20 for football attendance that doesn't employ such a seating system.

But even with the new donating system, Tiger fans are still getting a pretty good deal. Clemson fans will still be in the lower third of those top 20 programs in terms of pricing.

For example, to acquire tickets between the 30- and 35-yard line at Tennessee, fans must pay $1,546, which included alumni club dues, season tickets and donations. Georgia fans have to dish out $1,074. South Carolina fans pay $995. Prior to the change, Clemson fans paid $439.

"For those donors sitting on the 50-yard line that are in the low level (in donations), we really can't blame them," D'Andrea said. "There was really no compelling reason if I've got 50-yard line tickets that I have to raise my IPTAY level if I'm not going to get anything improved."

Fans have until Feb. 15, 2008, to decide whether or not to keep their current seats and pay the extra prices, or to relinquish them and move to a cheaper section.

This is also the only time fans that pay the smallest amount to IPTAY will be able to keep their prime seats. If they choose not to pay the new prices, the only way they will ever be able to get them back is to increase their membership level significantly.

"I think that this is the right plan for us," Bostic said, "and the right thing for us to do." Top Stories