LSU athletic director makes pitch for ticket hike

BATON ROUGE (AP) — LSU needs to boost sports ticket and parking prices to keep up with rising costs for salaries, benefits, travel and athlete scholarships, Athletic Director Joe Alleva told the university system’s governing board Friday.

Alleva is proposing 150 different changes to prices for tickets and parking across university sports events, including a ticket hike for the 2014 football season and for the 2015 baseball season.

The price hikes are estimated to raise about $2 million in the first year.

The LSU Board of Supervisors asked questions about the proposal, but took no action. A vote is expected in December.

Nearly $62 million of the $101.5 million in annual revenue the athletic department expects to bring in for the current 2013-14 budget year comes from ticket sales, “seat donations” that are required to buy some tickets, and parking payments.

The athletic department didn’t outline a specific budget hole it was trying to fill next year, instead saying generally that costs continue to rise. Alleva said the department’s costs have grown $20 million since 2010, including $4.3 million in football coach salary increases.

He noted that LSU is giving money to the academics side of campus, to help with its budget problems.

“We need the money to make the budget for next year, or we will be in the red and we will not be able to give the university $7 million,” Alleva said after the meeting.

The price hike request comes even as LSU is in line for a new multimillion-dollar annual payment for its participation in the SEC Network, a TV network set to launch next year.

LSU board member Stephen Perry, of New Orleans, said he’s heard estimates that the university could bring in anywhere from $18 million to $28 million annually in the new TV deal.

Alleva said he didn’t know what his department will earn from the new network, and he said he’d like to use some of that increased funding to build up reserves and pay down debt.

Several board members said the price hikes seemed reasonable, though some questions were raised about Alleva’s request to shift much of the price-raising authority to the LSU president in later seasons.

Board member Rolfe McCollister, of Baton Rouge, said ticket prices should be driven by demand.

“Nobody has to buy tickets. ... We have a great product, and in free enterprise in America, when you’ve got a great product, you’re rewarded and people buy your product,” he said.

Alleva’s proposal would boost football season ticket prices on average by 6 percent next year, though 5,000 seats in Tiger Stadium would see a decrease. Ticket prices would vary depending on the opponent and demand for the game.

The proposal also would increase the costs of reserved car and RV parking places, allow sales taxes to be charged on tickets and would raise prices across a list of athletic events. Basketball ticket prices would drop in an attempt to attract new fans.

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