For the first time since 2001, the University of Tennessee Athletics Department (UTAD) is raising football ticket prices to keep pace with rising operation costs, including facility maintenance and upgrades, utilities, security and tuition.

"We kept our 2001 commitment not to raise prices for five years despite our rising costs," said UT Athletics Director Mike Hamilton. "The decision to raise prices was not made lightly, but we have to make adjustments to our ticket prices to be able to continue to recruit, educate and train world-class student-athletes while continuing to operate without using tax or university dollars."

Season ticket prices have remained $38 per game since 2001. In 2004, UTAD raised single-game ticket prices for select home games to $45, but maintained season ticket prices at $38 each.

Season ticket prices for standard seats for the 2006 football season will be $296 for seven home games -- $44 for California, Florida, LSU and Alabama; $40 for Air Force, Marshall and Kentucky. Chairback seat season tickets are $3 more per game. A total of 14.25 percent of the $296 season ticket price, or approximately $37, is sales tax.

The athletics department also announced that single-game ticket prices for four of the Vols' seven home games (California, Florida, LSU and Alabama) will increase from $45 to $50. Tickets for Air Force, Marshall and Kentucky will increase from $38 to $40.

"We always are monitoring the national scene with regard to our ticket prices," said Hamilton. "Our prices are comparable to many of our peer institutions."

For the 2005 football season, Alabama's ticket prices ranged from $40-$50, Auburn ranged from $42-$52, LSU ranged from $36-$45, and Ole Miss ranged from $40-$42. Notre Dame's tickets were $56 a year ago, Ohio State's ticket price was $58, Oklahoma's price ranged from $52-$75 and Texas' price ranged from $56-$75.

The increases are projected to raise approximately $2.5 million, which will be used for facility improvements and to ensure UTAD can maintain financial independence from the university while continuing its tradition of giving back to the university.

"The money generated from the football program allows all of our student-athletes - men and women - to have the opportunity to compete on a national level while achieving academic success," Hamilton said.

Under Hamilton's leadership, the men's athletics department has cut its operating budget by $3.5 million - from $24.06 million in 2003 to $20.51 million in 2005.

The University of Tennessee athletics department is one of fewer than 10 departments in the country that receives no funds from state subsidies or taxes. UTAD primarily is funded by donations to the Volunteer Athletics & Scholarship Fund and Lady Vol Boost-Her Club, as well as revenue from football, men's basketball and women's basketball. The only non-athletics department generated revenue is a $1 million contribution to the women's athletics department coming from student fees.

A survey conducted by the Center for Business and Economic Research at UT in August 2004 based on data from the 2003-04 school year found that the UT Athletics Department contributes nearly $104 million to the total income of the Knoxville metropolitan area. More than $62.8 million is attributable to expenditures made in the community by the department, with an additional $41 million evolving from expenditures made by visitors and fans.

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