Well, my date FINALLY came up. After two and a half weeks of patiently watching all the seats get grabbed up, I finally got my chance at 1:46 PM today.
The process was smooth and simple, as I expected. I have to admit this automated self-selecting system is far nicer in concept than the traditional “hope the ATO is nice to me and understands my note” system that has been used in the past. (BTW, I found the ATO to be very nice in their selection when I wrote a good note, explaining exactly what I wanted and where I was willing to compromise. The seats we’ve had for the last handful of years were great.)
Of course the seats I got were not nearly as nice as I hoped and there’s no doubt that lots of formerly high donors were snapping up cheap tickets this year, which is fully their right. There are plenty of cheap tickets left, but the good ones are all but gone. I guess that’s my penalty for not being a donor. For me, we ended up picking seats in the 2nd to highest row of section 332. We’re in the middle of the row, which wasn’t what we wanted, but I felt the slightly better location was worth it over seats in section 317 that were only two from the isle. In either case, we were going to be in the highest rows. At this point, unless I was going to pay for big-donor seats, everything was at least 2/3rds the way up the upper deck.
The lower deck was out of the question for me. They’re SO low, the sight lines are horrible, particularly from the endzone, the only place a non-donor could sit down there. Which brings me to my thought for the day:
I think the athletic department made a mistake in where they put the “reserved” seats and where they put the “blue/gold zone” seats. They should have switched them, and put the $275/seat and no discount for kids seats (the equivalent to the old reserved) on the upper deck. As I stated above, the sight-lines are better and it’s not that far from the field. It also better matches the reserved seats in that they were in the corners, not the endzones. Conversely, they should have put the $225/seat with a $75 discount for kids seats (the equivalent of the old blue/gold zone), in the endzone. They’re the cheapest seats and have always been in the endzone and again, as said above, have a worse view.
The fact that the “reserved” seats have lots of available seats and the “zone” seats are filling up fast, indicates that they got the pricing/demand curve backwards on those two. Had they got them right, and flopped their locations, I probably would have paid the extra money to sit in the “reserved” sections and gotten better seats within the same section I’m sitting in.
The good news for me is that this year’s tickets cost about half what I expected. I budgeted $2500 for 6 tickets in the annual budget and paid $1225 (plus a $100 donation so that next year I’ll have a better priority number). I ended up going with 4 adult and 2 kids tickets because there are some games, like USC as a night game, that I won’t be taking the kids to and would like to take friends to, but would also like to save some cash when I bring the 4 kids with my wife.
Good luck to those who haven’t yet had a chance to pick! Here’s a tip: I’ve you’ve got some extra dough, there’s still some GREAT big-donor seats left.