University of Florida students and boosters will have to dig slightly deeper into their wallets for season football tickets next year.
The UF Athletic Association Board of Directors revealed that season-ticket prices will increase for the first time since 2011 during a meeting Thursday, in which multiple changes surrounding the athletic department and university were also discussed.
Student season tickets will see a 33 percent increase, rising from $105 to $140 for seven home games, UF athletic director Jeremy Foley announced at the meeting. Boosters will see a ten percent increase, from $300 to $330.
Having sold out six of the seven home games this season and seeing improvements in performance, winning ten games this season, the success of the football team would appear to be an obvious reason to raise ticket prices.
But Foley said the team’s success had nothing to do with it.
Foley attributed the hike in price to rising expenses in insurance, travel and employee pension plans, as well as health coverage.
The board also discussed the construction of the new office of student life, the Otis Hawkins Center. Construction of the new space includes two phases, with the first being a 42,000 square-foot building being constructed in UF’s historic district set to be finished in April 2016. The second phase – a renovation of the pre-existing Farrior Hall – should be completed in December 2016.
Chip Howard, UF’s executive associate athletic director for internal affairs, said all of the student athletes see the office of student life as a home away from home, and the UAA wants to make it feel more like that home.
Spread out through three floors, the newly-constructed space will consist of an institute of sports science, nutrition suite, wellness suite, advising offices, two computer labs, study spaces, teaching labs and a leadership institute, among other features.
Foley wants the students and families of future student-athletes to know that they are committed to the complete well being of the students and said the point of the space is to “develop them and commit to excellence off the field.”
The office of student life isn’t the only place undergoing renovation in the athletics department. The O’Connell Center renovation is set to begin in full force in March 2016.
Jeremy Foley described this renovation as a complete remodel.
“This will be a brand new facility in the same location,” Foley said. “It will have the same roofs and walls, but we’re gutting the inside.”
One major area of emphasis with the renovation is seating. Executive Associate Athletics Director for External Affairs Mike Hill said the O’Dome will see a loss of 450-500 seats. All of the bench-style seats in the lower bowl are being replaced with chair backs.
The addition of chair backs takes up more space, a problem that Hill and Foley believe visitors to the renovated stadium will eventually be okay with.
“Everybody recognizes it’s not going to be the most pleasant process,” Hill said. “If 500 seats don’t exist, they don’t exist.”
The decrease in seating leads to complications with season-ticket holders, a problem Hill and his UAA staff has been working to fix through a “loyalty point system” being developed.
This system would focus on giving first pick at season tickets to season ticket holders based on the number of years and contributions made to the program, ranking them in order of points.
An informational event will be held on Jan. 9 for boosters, season ticket holders and fans, the same day the men’s basketball team hosts LSU. Completion of the O’Connell Center is scheduled for December 2016.
President Kent Fuchs also gave his update, with three major highlights. Fuchs discussed Kiplinger’s newest list of best value universities in the country, with UF coming in at No. 2, up from last year’s No. 3 ranking.
The university has also been tabbed with having the third-best super computer of any university in the nation, public or private, and is on pace to hit $200 million in gifts and commitments by the end of December, putting the university on pace to surpass its record-setting $315 mark set last fiscal year.