Purdue's Commitment To Football Going To Come At A Cost To Fans

By douggriffiths
Purdue Boilermakers
Pat Lovell-USA Today Sports

When it was announced in December that Purdue was entering the 21st Century exiting the Dark Ages by substantially increasing its financial commitment to the Boilermaker football program, you knew that extra money was going to have to come from a variety of sources, including the fans.

So it should come as no surprise that the school is calling on the fans to incur some of that cost in the form of what Purdue is calling a “Legacy Fund” donation when buying season tickets. Not all fans will be required to pay the “Legacy Fund,” which is $250 or $100 per seat depending on your location in Ross-Ade Stadium. Actually less than 25 percent of Ross-Ade’s 62,500-seat capacity will need to pay the donation.

To simplify, if you sit in the best seats at Purdue, you’ll be paying an extra $250 per seat, while the next best set of seats will cost you $100 per seat.

Although the university is adding a “Legacy Fund,” some of its season tickets are actually dropping in price, which is something unheard of in today’s college sports environment. The best seats in Ross-Ade Stadium will cost Boilermaker fans $273 now instead of $357, which was the price last year, plus the “Legacy Fund.” The next best seats will remain $273 each before the donation.

“Everyone said you’re too cheap, you’re too frugal, you’re too this, you’re too that,” Purdue athletic director Morgan Burke told the Lafayette (Ind.) Journal & Courier. “OK, I threw myself in and it’s got me in a little bit of risk but I think it’s the right thing. I’m going to need a little bit of help from people.”

The season ticket prices for other locations in Ross-Ade is remaining the same as it was last year, including the student’s fee of $119.

Fans need to realize the “Legacy Fund” is really a way they can invest in the football program as the funds generated will go to upgrades and to help with Purdue’s new head coach Darrell Hazell’s $2 million a year salary and the $2.1 million dedicated to his nine-member coaching staff.

The season ticket prices for Purdue’s seven home games still rank around the cheapest you’ll find in the Big Ten and not a bad deal at all when you consider the teams visiting Ross-Ade in 2013 will be Notre Dame, Northern Illinois, Nebraska and Ohio State, plus Indiana, Iowa and Illinois.

Purdue ticket prices are a bargain when you look around the league.

For instance, today Ohio State’s Board of Trustees announced tickets for the Buckeyes’ 2013 home games would run $79 apiece (that’s nearly a $10 hike from last year’s price), excluding the Wisconsin game, which will have a face value of $110.

What has to be of concern to Burke and Purdue administrators is, like he said, he’s somewhat rolling the dice hoping fans begin to invest in Hazell and Co.

To do that, Purdue needs a boost in season ticket sales and average attendance, something that declined steadily during former Boilermaker boss Danny Hope’s four-year run in West Lafayette.

Last fall Purdue’s averaged 43,588 fans, of which about 38,000 was paid attendance.

Even Burke admits he doesn’t know if he can fill the seats. One thing, though, is for sure, going .500 in the regular season and getting blown out in a bowl game (Purdue lost 58-14 to Oklahoma State in the Heart of Dallas Bowl in Jan. 1) as was the case this year simply isn’t going to cut it as far as generating interest from the fan base.

Credit Purdue for finally committing to its football program. No longer is the university the laughing stock of the Big Ten when it comes to coaching salaries. In fact, Hazell’s salary is now among the top-25 in the country.

Without question, Purdue has come a long way in a short period of time. According to ESPN, Auburn’s offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn was making more money ($1,309,600) than Hope was as Purdue’s head coach.

The bottom line is there’s one way and one way only Purdue is going to make its financial commitment to football a good investment … WIN and win big.

That might be asking a lot when you consider the Boilermaker football program hasn’t won more than seven games in a season since 2007 and had just one winning season during that time span.

Doug Griffiths is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and the US Basketball Writers Association. Doug is a columnist/writer for RantSports. Follow him on Twitter @ISLgriffiths and Facebook.

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