May 21, 2014
Seat Selection 3D Map
By JACK BOGACZYK
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - While most of you are looking forward to the long Memorial Day weekend, Marshall Athletics is pointed toward the days immediately after the holiday.
You've heard of "Selection Sunday." Well, the Thundering Herd is getting ready for "Selection Tuesday" ... and beyond.
Beginning next Tuesday, Big Green Scholarship Foundation members who filed football season-ticket intent forms in recent months will begin selecting their Edwards Stadium seats.
It's part of the Herd's reseating and reparking plan - the first in the stadium's 24 years -- that has boosted fundraising for the Vision Campaign, scholarships, facility enhancement and athletics operations.
All members who have returned the ticket intent forms - another Herd first - will have a "reservation" time to select seat location, based on Big Green Priority Points via lifetime giving to MU Athletics. The "ticket selection line" - so to speak - is based upon that longtime commitment to the Big Green.
The number of seats each member may select is based upon annual giving.
The Big Green reports that all contributors of $1,500 or more who have requested a single parking space will be accommodated as well.
With Coach Doc Holliday's football program coming off a 10-win season and Military Bowl victory over Maryland and predictions of big success in 2014, there is much anticipation about the coming season - and it has shown in the interest in securing quality seats among the 38,127 capacity in "The Joan," where the installation of new a AstroTurf surface continues this week.
"It's the first time, on Tuesday, that our top donors may select their new seats and parking for 2014 season, so it's a little bit of a paramount occasion for us," said MU Associate Athletic Director Aaron Goebbel, who also is the Herd's ticket chief. "As far as an official structured reseating in the stadium, this is definitely something that is new to our donors and fan base.
"There's been a lot of buildup to it, and we all know the Vision Campaign has been the driving force behind allowing individuals to increase their Priority Points total to position themselves with the best opportunities to select the top seats.
"We have encouraged people to join the Annual Fund, and they have in increasing numbers."
Goebbel said the trepidation about the reseating process has dwindled over time.
"This is good, productive for our athletic program," Goebbel said. "Our supporters are helping us be competitive. I think what people have to understand is this isn't set up, whatsoever, just to automatically remove people from their seats. The facilities going up - like the Indoor Athletic Facility and its components and the soccer complex - are due in part to this process.
"All of the fans who have supported us the most for a long time are on board. It's not set up to rattle everyone's cages. It's a process set up that's allowed us to fund-raise with greater effectiveness, something many schools have done and are doing in major college athletics, and will allow us to go above and beyond our expectations and the expectations of our fans.
"We can build these facilities and that is a huge part of it. There's been some worry that this is something we're going to do every year. There is no way that's going to happen. The ticket intent forms -- what that's done is with our people who have premium seats, the renewal rate was almost 95 percent."
The seat selection process begins Tuesday at 8:30 a.m.
Those Big Green members with reservations have three options to make their seat selections - go online with the 3-D Ballena Technologies Seat Relocation Management System for selections; call 1-800-THE-HERD for assistance; or come to the Cam Henderson Center lobby outside the Big Green office, where members will be directed to a nearby location to make selections with the help of Big Green staffers.
The Big Green staff asks that if a football-season ticket member intends to make his or her seat selections in person at the Henderson Center, that they arrive a half-hour before their reservation time slot, as well as call in advance to the Big Green (304-696-4661) so staffers are prepared to assist.
"In order to select in Round 1 of the process, you only needed to be a $50 donor to the Big Green - the minimum to belong - to get a spot to pick before anyone who is not a Big Green member," Goebbel said.
He said Marshall has roughly 1,800 Big Green members who are season-ticket holders. The club has about 3,200 total members. Goebbel said the Herd has about 400 football season ticket accounts that belong to non-Big Green members.
Teddy Kluemper, Director of Athletic Development for the Big Green said several numbers depict the pluses in the reseating/reparking program to benefit Herd athletics.
Kluemper said the Big Green has 357 new members already in 2014, primarily because the chance to get new or improved football season seats accompanied those enrollments. He said the membership increase also has resulted in $64,000 in new contributions.
The Big Green also already has 68 percent of its 2013 membership renewed for 2014, a level of renewal the organization normally wouldn't reach until August or September.
The seat selection process for Big Green members will run through June 12. Goebbel said the football season ticket seat-selection process for those not enrolled in the Big Green will begin June 16.
"This new process also was a way for people to get involved who wanted to get tickets for the first time, by becoming a Big Green donor," Goebbel said. "In the past, during this time period, we wouldn't have even had tickets on sale (to prospective purchasers). We'd only have been doing renewals.
"Now, if you wanted to get season tickets, you could get into the process and get good seats to see what should be a great football season for the Herd. People had an opportunity to be part of the process when it wasn't possible before.
"We've had an excellent response, and we expect to surpass the number of season tickets we sold last year at some point during the summer. Our fans are excited about the coming season."