Reseating a Common Practice Nationally
For the first time since the inaugural game against Colgate on Dec. 1, 1970, the WVU Coliseum will be reseated.
The process, which will create ticket-holder equality across the board for Mountaineer men’s basketball games, is the work of Mountaineer Athletic Club Executive Director and Associate Athletic Director Matt Borman and the rest of his MAC staff.
The territory that Borman and his staff are entering isn’t new to the collegiate athletic realm, as dozens of other institutions across the country have undergone a reseating process at their athletic venues over the past decade.
Three development staffs and their respective universities – Virginia, Virginia Tech and Kansas – have recently reseated venues on their campus, with each seeing the same exceedingly positive results in the reseating of either their basketball stadium and/or their football stadium.
In fact, results have been so positive for Virginia Tech’s athletic program that it reseated Lane Stadium for a second time during the summer of 2012 and is looking to reseat Cassell Coliseum for a second time this summer.
“We saw a lot of very positive responses from our members,” said Virginia Tech’s Associate Director of Development for Intercollegiate Athletics Brian Thornburg. “What West Virginia is doing is something that closely resembles what we did in 2004 and 2005 with our two venues. Prior to that, it had not been done at Virginia Tech. At the time, we had just moved into the ACC, so we felt that it was the right time to do it. I can see how this is the right time for West Virginia with its move to the Big 12 Conference.”
For Doug Banks, he has now overseen or participated in three total reseatings during previous stops at Illinois State, Kansas State and now, as Associate Athletic Director for Development at Kansas. On each occasion, Banks recalls a resounding theme after the process was completed.
“The outcomes that you get are very consistent,” Banks said. “It is important no matter what we do to make sure we are being consistent across the board, and that we are providing equality for our ticket holders. It feels good to be able to look at your seating chart and see equality because everyone is pulling the same weight. It makes sense to make changes such as this.”
Along with creating equality across the board for ticket holders, the reseating process can also stimulate other opportunities for the university’s student-athletes, as seen after the reseating of Virginia’s Scott Stadium prior to the 2008 season.
“When we went through this process, we wanted to accomplish a couple things,” said Virginia Athletics Foundation Associate Director Ryan White. “We wanted equality across the board for all of our donors. You want to be fair to each and every individual, and the process got everybody in line with their giving and their priority points. We also generated just under $2 million in revenue as a result of the process. Those funds helped with our student-athlete scholarship fund, covering the academic advising bills, summer school for student-athletes and many other obligations.”
Although some concern has been expressed during WVU’s current process, White says that those with concern should allow the process to play out, because in the end, they may actually be the ones to benefit from it after all.
“People saw it as an opportunity that they have never had before, and we had a large group of individuals actually step up their donation level because of this reseating process. You cannot underestimate how many people reseating actually benefits.”
After evaluating the reseating programs at many other institutions, it is Borman’s belief that the results WVU sees will closely resemble the positive results that others have had.
“We were able to contact numerous schools throughout the country that have participated in a reseating process in the past,” Borman says. “From those interactions, we have been able to develop a plan of action that we feel fits best with our donors and our system.”
The system, Borman says, isn’t an exact replica of another school’s reseating plan, but a plan that was built off what others found to be the most successful.
“We didn’t necessarily use one exact model from another school,” Borman says. “We were able to pull the best facets of each plan that we felt fit best with our donor base. We didn’t just want to plug in another school’s system, because we wanted to put together a system that fit best with West Virginia University and its donors.”
With the plan fully developed and set to take action, Borman says he expects the reseating of the WVU Coliseum to produce results like those seen around the country and at universities such as Kansas, Virginia and Virginia Tech.
“We have seen the increase in fundraising that other schools have accomplished with their reseating programs, and we feel that we will be able to achieve similar, very positive results with our program.”