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Countering Woodward's Apple Cup at Qwest 'proposal' with an actual solution

I'm an English teacher, not a math teacher, but I like to think I'm pretty OK when it comes to numbers. Woodward's "proposal" got me thinking. See if you can follow my logic here:

  • If the Apple Cup is to be played at Qwest Field, UW AD Scott Woodward says he needs 60 percent of the tickets every other year in order to appease his season ticket holders. 
  • The University of Washington has sold 37,616 non-student season tickets for 2009 as of April 29.
  • According to the UW ticket office this morning, the capacity of the UW football student section is approximately 6,200.
  • 37,616 + 6,200 = 43,816
  • Now, there are 67,000 seats at Qwest Field, but under the original 50/50 split, only 60,000 would be going to the universities. Let's assume he would only get 60 percent of that 60,000.
  • 60,000 x .6 = 36,000
  • 43,816 > 36,000
  • 43,816 - 36,000 = 7,816 fans who still won't get tickets at least once every two years under Woodward's plan. (If he were to get 60 percent of the 67,000, that number would be 3,616.)

That's right, folks: At a time when Woodward just cut a sport and is laying off employees because he was asked to reduce his annual budget by $2.8 million, he killed a deal that would infuse an extra $3 million into his budget each biennium because of a demand that doesn't solve his problem anyway -- Washington would already exceed that proposed 60 percent allotment even with its much lower than usual season ticket base (either by a few thousand or nearly 8,000, depending on which figure you use). And if the team is as wildly successful under Steve Sarkisian as they all seem to think it will be, they'll be way above that 60 percent allotment at some point in the six-year deal -- they sold 43,509 tickets last year, and had 59,878 non-student season ticket holders as recently as 2003.

On a 1-10 scale of ridiculousness, this is a 28. That is just way too much money left on the table for two programs that need it, and this kind of behavior should anger Husky and Cougar fans alike. But since being angry benefits no one, and since I'm a solution-oriented guy, how about this idea?

Under the 50/50 split initially reported, each school would get "slightly in excess of 30,000 tickets." Let's just go with 30,000, because it's a round number. That means there will be 60,000 total tickets available to each university every other year. I believe it's possible to allot them in such a way that the UW can make sure the same number of Huskies get into the game every two years as they do now.

For simplicity's sake, let's assume Sarkisian is a moderate success, enough so that the season ticket sales stay relatively static and over the next six years UW continues to sell approximately the 43,000 non-student season tickets it sold last year. When combined with the student seats, you've got approximately 49,000 season ticket holders attending the game at Husky Stadium. When the game is at Martin Stadium, according to the WSU ticket office, the UW is allotted 4,800 tickets -- 800 to students and 4,000 to season ticket holders.

If we break it down into categories, it works out like this:

  • 4,000 non-students attending every year
  • 800 students attending every year
  • 39,000 non-students attending every other year
  • 5,400 students attending every other year

So, here's your solution:

  • Take care of the students first, because they're your potential future donors. Give them 4,000 each year. That's a two-year total of 8,000, which is greater than the current 7,000. If they're worried about the same hard-core students getting tickets each year, they could create a system that tracks Apple Cup ticket purchases by student ID numbers and make sure no one is given a ticket in consecutive years. Not terribly difficult.
  • Of the remaining 26,000 tickets, allocate 4,000 to your big-time donors every year. This is the same number that has the opportunity to attend the game every year already.
  • Guarantee to your fans that if they purchase season tickets in consecutive years, they'll get tickets to at least one Apple Cup. How? Like this: Take the remaining 22,000 tickets and make them available to that amount of your remaining non-student season ticket holders the first year. The following year, first make them available to all the people who didn't go the previous year.

    If not all of your 22,000 alternating tickets get gobbled up in the second year -- or if your non-student season ticket base is less than 48,000, as appears likely -- offer them back to people that went the year before, or increase your student allotment.

Under this arrangement, the University of Washington's non-student season ticket base could grow to 48,000 and you'd still be able to make sure everyone gets to one Apple Cup every two years. And here's the bonus: In this scenario, it's actually incredibly probable that the UW will increase the number of people that get to go to the game every year than under the current home-and-home arrangment.

Wasn't that easy? Seriously, I'm a high school teacher who makes less than $50,000 a year and I just hammered out a viable solution with the 50/50 ticket split in an hour.  Why can't athletic administrators making six figures do it?

Unless, of course, the University of Washington just decided it doesn't want to play the game there under any circumstance anymore. In which case, I would like to request that Woodward stop playing games and just tell the truth.