Bob: I’ll take Rutgers football for $100, Alex.
Answer: $60 per game. “Ding”
Bob: What is the cost per game to park in the Yellow Lot?
Without going too far afield, writing for On the Banks gives me a bit of an opportunity to express my opinions. Aaron does have a choke collar on me so that when I get too crazy, he just reins me in. But this turned from an angry topic to one worth exploring. Bear with me.
I bought my football tickets the other day including parking. Seats in section 126, parking in the Yellow Lot. Total cost? $1,890 broken down as follows:
So far, so good. But, wait.... Seven games, $420 for parking....that’s $60 per game. That’s more than a ticket to the game costs! I was livid. Last year, that parking cost $240 for six games. That’s $40/game. This was a 50% increase! That’s insane. And so was I!!!
Social media - where everyone has a voice (like it or not!)
And here’s where it got interesting. I ended up in a twitter argument/discussion with a few other fans. Did you ever have a conversation - a discussion - where you’re both on the same side but it sounds like you’re really arguing? That’s kind of what happened there.
The other fans were countering my complaining, trying to make the point that Rutgers needs every revenue stream it has in order to be competitive. Parking is one of those, and the point seemed to be that until more people start to kick in more donations - and we’re not talking millions, but whatever they can afford - on a regular basis, these other areas of income need to be strong. And that’s not wrong.
I won’t - I can’t - argue that Rutgers fans need to give more. We are woefully behind in that area. Want proof? Okay, this is from the latest NCAA report which covers the 2016-17 academic year. Rutgers took in $7,128,280 in donations. Pretty good? Not really. Compare it to just a few of our Big Ten brethren:
Okay, forget Michigan; like Ohio State, they’re in a different dimension. But we brought in less than Maryland....$5 million less! So, those other revenue streams really are important.
But back to parking fees.
So, if we increase parking for football, can we close the gap? Sure, if we charge maybe $120 or more per game. The NCAA report, unfortunately, doesn’t report parking income as a separate line, so we can’t accurately say how much we make on it. The NCAA report combines parking income with programs, concessions, and novelties. (I love that....”novelties”, like balloons and such). Take a look at the same group of schools:
Surprisingly, we already make more than a few others. How or why isn’t clear. Is it because hot dogs cost more here than in Indiana? Or because we actually sell more stuff....or charge more for parking?
Now, in fairness to Rutgers, when I complained to Athletics about the cost, I was replied to very quickly. And very courteously and reasonably. I’m not sure the “old Rutgers” would have responded so well. Somewhere along the line, under the Hobbs regime, the idea of customer service is coming into play. And that’s a good thing.
So, was I right in complaining about parking fees? I think so. It was a pretty hefty increase. And when you’re talking about families bringing two or three kids - and you want families coming to games - it might make them pause and think? An additional $140 this year? How many birthday presents or outings to a family movie or tanks of gas does that buy?
Can I afford it? Yes, I can, but it made me pause, just to think about the bump. I wonder how many others, including those families, paused and said, ‘Sorry, Rutgers, not this year.’
And then decided to use that money and go to a movie.
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