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Clemson Football Gameday Experience, Operations and Insights

Oct. 1, 2007

We hope you are enjoying the Tigers’ early success in Death Valley and we hope that you were able to enjoy the festivities associated with our game day experience. There is no question that Clemson is a special place!

In talking to Head Coach Tommy Bowden, he indicated his father (Bobby) told him after our game with Florida State University that our fans have taken the game day atmosphere to a new level. When you think about that, it is certainly a profound statement coming from the winningest coach in college football and a real compliment to our fans, students and University.

After putting on three home games within a 13-day window and also opening with ACC-foe Florida State, we have now taken an opportunity to reflect on several issues that intersect with the operational side of event planning and our donor services.

Preparation for the football season begins in early spring. Our entire staff is involved in planning, preparing and executing our game day event. This includes everything from security, tickets, parking, safety issues, promotions, game-day activities and just about anything you can think of that requires us to prepare for 80,000 fans coming to the Clemson campus.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that our work involves a great deal of collaboration with various areas and groups of the University and everyone has have been a real asset to helping us prepare for game day.

Certainly, we have some challenges and I’d like to explain a few items that are essential to the overall operations and success of IPTAY and how these could actually impact you as an IPTAY Donor in the future.

First, it is essential that every IPTAY Donor become familiar with the 50 percent pledge deadline. Last year, we posted the March 15th deadline to ensure 50 percent of your IPTAY pledge is fulfilled.

With the IPTAY Seat Equity Plan implementation scheduled for the 2008 season, we have been forced to move this date to February 15th, 2008. This date is critical to our internal operations and enables the IPTAY and Ticket Office Staff to serve the IPTAY Donor base more efficiently and effectively.

Moving the date to February 15th will also provide Travis Furbee and his staff in the Ticket Office additional time needed in which to implement and execute the IPTAY Seat Equity Plan. It is critical to understand that this IPTAY Donor pledge, as well as your total points at this specific time, will be used for your ticket and parking assignment.

Establishing deadlines also enables our staff to grant privileges based on IPTAY Donors’ pledges and ensures us that individuals will be securing tickets, once their application is returned.

Previously we had no deadline; therefore, we had stacks of season tickets in our vaults in anticipation of IPTAY Donors securing these specific tickets. Many times, within weeks of the season-opener, the Ticket Office had good lower deck tickets available because IPTAY Donors did not fulfill their financial obligations to IPTAY.

Obviously, we cannot operate IPTAY and the Ticket Office in this manner. We need to know that IPTAY Donors will secure their tickets. The deadline enables us to better accommodate various requests, as well as changes that develop as we assign tickets. This deadline of February 15th will be even more important with the implementation of the IPTAY Seat Equity Plan.

Additionally, prior to the deadline, some IPTAY Donors pledged at higher levels and parking was assigned accordingly, based on that pledge. Subsequently, some IPTAY Donors would contribute the minimum.

Whether this occurred as an attempt to manipulate the IPTAY/Ticket system or unforeseen financial circumstances occurred, it is not fair to our IPTAY Donors who are committed to doing it the right way.

Obviously, this is not a fair exchange. We cannot continue to do business in this manner. Please bear in mind, IPTAY is about providing opportunities for student-athletes and we’re not going to shortchange our students’ opportunity to follow their dreams.

Once we receive all of the returned season ticket applications and they are entered into the computer system, the staff begins the process of assigning parking, which is based exclusively on IPTAY Donor level and then IPTAY Priority Points.

Assigning parking is an arduous job; however, we must apply a system that is fair and equitable. Therefore, using the IPTAY Board of Directors’ approved system is the most comprehensive and equitable way to assign parking.

We often hear, “had I known I would have been moved, I would have increased”. At this time, it is too late. Parking placards have been mailed and it is a difficult task to retrieve your last year’s space.

With a 17 percent increase in contributions coming from current IPTAY Donors, this certainly has had a profound impact on parking and assignments. We had only 709 new IPTAY members last year, with 85 percent joining at the $140 level. Therefore, the competition is coming from within our current donors.

I will also say that with the IPTAY Seat Equity Plan, many individuals will step up to have the opportunity to maintain their specific seats; however, this is purely conjecture. IPTAY Donors with seats in the lower deck within the 25-yard-lines — who will make a decision about increasing their giving level — will also receive parking privileges associated with the increased IPTAY Donor level. Certainly, more reserved spaces and area space will be required, adding more demand on our parking.

In the month of August, the IPTAY Office and Ticket Office received calls primarily from $350 and $700 members who were moved from parking locations used in past years. This change is a direct result of our IPTAY Donors increasing levels, which impacted our lower level donors ($350 and $700 Donors).

If an IPTAY Donor increases his/her level, it has a domino impact and pushes people (lower level donors $350 and $700 Donors) further away from Memorial Stadium parking.

As stated, we will continue to utilize the IPTAY Board approved practice of assigning parking by IPTAY Donor level first and IPTAY Priority Points within the level.

I think it is important to clearly understand how the IPTAY Donor Parking Process works. IPTAY cannot guarantee your parking assignment to remain the same from one year to the next.

There are two factors that can cause a change in parking assignment.

The first is construction. If IPTAY physically loses space because of athletic projects or University projects, there will be reassignments. As the university continues to grow, parking will be impacted. In 2008 we anticipate losing the West Library lot; a total of 62 numbered spaces. The South Box area parking lot will also be off limits as cemetery expansion continues. This loss of space will further extend our parking demands as we will assign IPTAY parking at the Strom Thurmond Institute and possibly the Brooks Center for 2008.

The growth of IPTAY and the increase in funds to support the athletic scholarship fund is the other factor that will continue to cause a ripple effect throughout all of our parking areas.

If you as an IPTAY Donor increase your contribution then you should receive a benefit from the increased financial support. Additionally, you should expect to be surrounded by those individuals that also provide a comparable amount to IPTAY.

In 2008, the seating in Death Valley will be equitable in that you will be sitting in and around IPTAY Donors that provide the similar per seat amounts to IPTAY as you have contributed. Over the past three years, the reassignment of parking has applied a system that assigns parking based on level of giving and points within that level so that the benefit matches the contribution of not only yourself but those that park around you.

The difficult situation to explain is why you as an IPTAY Donor may have your parking reassigned only a few spaces. Most IPTAY Donors, while not pleased, can understand being moved out of a lot if they don’t have the priority to be assigned.

Being moved a few spaces or a few rows may seem arbitrary. This is the result of the domino effect of an IPTAY Donor increasing his/her giving to move to the front of a lot, to be beside a friend/relative or to get two spaces together per the benefit of being a Heisman donor.

Once the IPTAY Donor with a higher priority is assigned, then every other IPTAY Donor falls into the next available space within priority, which can be only a few spaces down in some cases.

IPTAY will be providing the IPTAY Donor breakdown in each of our parking lots and giving “suggested” giving levels to retain the parking assignment in that lot and in many cases the same spot. However, as IPTAY Donors increase their giving and parking spaces are lost, there will continue to be reassignments to be as fair and equitable as we possibly can.

The one guarantee that IPTAY can provide is that if you are reassigned, then the IPTAY Donor in your previous space is at a higher priority IPTAY level based on their support of the IPTAY Scholarship Fund.

Finally, with four home games remaining and the success of the Tigers, we anticipate sellout crowds and suggest you prepare to arrive early. We hope that you can appreciate the issues and challenges that are on the horizon.

We appreciate your support and thank you in advance for your cooperation.

Bill D’Andrea Senior Associate Athletic Director for External Affairs