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WVU ticket package prices to rise

West Virginia University football fans will pay a bit more to watch the Mountaineers at Milan Puskar Stadium this year.

WVU Athletic Director Oliver Luck sent an email to prior season ticket holders Tuesday informing them of a "modest increase" for annual ticket packages for the school's first season in the Big 12 Conference.

The hike coincides with increases in the required donation levels for the university's priority seating areas that officials had planned to put in place well ahead of joining the Big 12.

Luck said in the email the increases are needed to boost revenue to compete with the likes of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Oklahoma State.

"West Virginia ranks seventh of 10 Big 12 schools in football revenue," he said. "This, coupled with one of the smallest football stadiums in the conference, spells the realistic challenges facing the University."

Luck said he wants to use the increased revenue to upgrade the football stadium and the WVU Coliseum; provide additional academic resources for student athletes; and cover increased costs from tuition, housing for student athletes and travel in the Big 12.

Matt Wells, assistant athletic director for marketing and sales, said football ticket sales and priority seating revenue represent some of the most significant sources of income for the school's athletic department.

"It benefits not just the football team but all of our Olympic sports, from basketball to baseball to soccer all the way down the line," he said. "That's certainly a very, very important source of funds for the entire department."

Actual season ticket prices aren't going up that much.

Last year, season ticket packages cost $365. The price is going up $30 this year to $395 for the seven home games this fall.

"You're talking about less than $5 per game increase on season tickets," Wells said. "Plus, there is a savings of $30 by purchasing the season tickets versus buying at the single-game rate."

The cost of single-game tickets also will go up this year.

Last year, individual tickets cost $50, $55 or $75, depending on anticipated demand for a game.

This year those prices will rise by $5 each to $55, $60 and $80. Wells said he expected the Nov. 17 game versus Oklahoma to cost $80 per ticket.

But many season ticket holders will pay more for their seats even before they buy tickets.

WVU has a priority seating system for donors to the Mountaineer Athletic Club.

The priority system lets people contribute a "per seat" donation that secures a seat in a particular stadium section. The bigger the donation, the better the seat.

The minimum donation for each zone is going up by $25 to $125 per seat this year.

Minimum donations in what are known as the Orange Zone will go from $100 to $125 per seat. The Gold Zone is going from $200 to $250 per seat. The Red Zone is going from $375 to $425 per seat.

In addition, WVU officials carved out four seating sections from the Red Zone to create the Blue Zone, which now carries a $500 per seat minimum donation.

With 38,200 season tickets for sale this year, those increases could yield well over $1 million in additional revenue for the athletic department.

Wells said prior season ticket holders and athletic club donors in the Charleston area should have received information detailing the changes in the mail Wednesday or Thursday.

Wells said the school already has seen a reaction.

He said the athletic department received 300 season ticket renewal requests during the few hours after the new system was announced online.

"I think it was encouraging that many people went online to renew before they even got their forms in the mail," Wells said. "For 300 season ticket holders to go online and renew without getting a form, I think is an encouraging start."

He also said 400 new athletic club donors have signed up.   

He expects those numbers to grow as the priority seating deadline nears on May 15.

"I think that's a positive start," he said. "It just shows coming off the Orange Bowl victory and the move to the Big 12 and that attractive home schedule, that's combining to make Mountaineer football a very popular thing this year."

Athletic club donations and season ticket requests can both be made at WVUGAME.com. Last year, donations had to be made on the athletic club website.

General public season ticket packages will go on sale sometime this summer, after all the priority seating requests have been processed. However, Wells said it is possible the 38,200 season tickets available could all go to priority season requests.

Single-game tickets are expected to go on sale in August.   

Contact writer Jared Hunt at jared.hunt@dailymail.com or 304-348-5148. 


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