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Q&A: Bennett, Hilderbrand Discuss Seating, Parking for 2001

Jan. 26, 2001

O&W: With the Tiger Pride construction at Memorial Stadium, do you plan any changes as far as seating is concerned?

Bennett-Hilderbrand: No. If you have seats in the stadium and you like where your seats are, all you need to do is maintain your IPTAY donor level. That way you will keep your seats in the stadium.

O&W: What about seating at Littlejohn Coliseum?

Bennett-Hilderbrand: The first season after the renovation of Littlejohn Coliseum is complete, we are going to reseat all of Littlejohn. We will re-evaluate all seats and start over. All seating in Littlejohn will be affected, but it may be two or three years down the road. Let me reiterate, the seating at Memorial Stadium will not be affected.

O&W: How will the Littlejohn reseating take place?

Bennett-Hilderbrand: It will be based on the new IPTAY Priority Point System. (See chart on this page.)

O&W: What changes are planned relative to football parking?

Bennett-Hilderbrand: We are having a lot of construction taking place in areas around the stadium, Littlejohn Coliseum, Fike Fieldhouse and the new dormitory area. We’re building more buildings and creating less parking spaces. Plus, we are enjoying some growing pains. We have a lot of people joining IPTAY at upper levels. In the past, we had to create some parking places for people who have given us a $1,000 or more.

“Only $1,000 members will have numbered reserve parking spaces this next year. Whether we change completely the whole system will be a matter of how much construction we get done this year. We probably won’t change everybody until after all the construction is over. At that time, we will use the Priority Point System and issue parking space within their level of annual giving.

In other words, we will park together all the Fike Scholarship donors, Tiger Scholarship donors, IPTAY Scholarship donors and right on down. Using the Priority Point System, it will be done within their level of annual giving.

We are trying to recapture control of our parking. We have been lax over the last several years because we did not have the demand we have now. Parking has always been on an annual basis. We’re trying to get back to parking assignments on an annual basis.

As far as an ongoing process, the Point System will be assessed annually by the IPTAY Board, Ticket Office and IPTAY personnel, but a major review will occur every five years.

The $500 donor who does not increase his giving to the $1,000 level is going to lose his numbered parking.

O&W: What’s going to happen to the $500, $250 and $100 donors regarding parking?

Bennett-Hilderbrand: The $500 and $250 donors will get area parking within their level of the Priority Point System. And $100 donors will not get a parking card.

O&W: If a $500 donor decides to increase his giving to $1,000 this year, will that donor keep his or her parking space?

Bennett-Hilderbrand: We think, for the most part, the answer to that is yes. Two or three years down the road when the construction is complete, we anticipate starting all over again.

Our thrust this year is to get the $500 donors up to $1,000. Most of the current $500 donors with a space near the stadium have been members a long time. If he goes to the $1,000 level, we think he will be in the upper echelon of the $1,000 category.

Keeping his space, we do not anticipate being a problem. That has been pretty much a yes question when we are asked.

Down the road, that’s probably not going to happen until all the construction is over. We’re going to lose all the spaces on the street behind the West Endzone.

If you like your parking space and you meet the minimum criteria for that space, then we want you to stay where you are if you wish. We’re not trying to bump anyone out, however. You will at least have to meet that minimum. If a donor gives us $2,000 a year and he likes where he is parking, then we’ll let him stay there. We’re not going to make him park closer. Donors will have the opportunity to ask for the same parking, then we’ll evaluate it.

We do not see wholesale changes for the next couple of years, not until the construction is complete.

O&W: What are some of questions you face over the next three years with the pending construction?

Bennett-Hilderbrand: The construction will affect parking in a significant way. For instance, where is the new football building going to be? That has not been decided.

Some may think the area behind Jervey is poor parking. But some donors like it. It may be that in three years their space is not even there. Another parking area in question is near the outdoor track, which is where the new indoor track facility may be. We currently park 1,000 cars in that area. Those spaces will be gone.

That’s why the $100 donors need to understand what is taking place.

O&W: You are basically saying the changes resulting from the new Priority Point System this year will most affect the donors below the $1,000 level?

Bennett-Hilderbrand: Yes, a $250 or $500 member with a reserved numbered parking space who does not go to $1,000 will lose that numbered parking space. The $100 donor will not get a parking space.

O&W: Have some donors below the $1,000 level already reacted and increased their amount of giving?

Bennett-Hilderbrand: We have been getting a lot of donors going to a $1,000. We think most people realize $100 today will not do what it did 15-20 years ago. The no. 1 purpose of IPTAY is to raise money for athletic scholarships. Those are cold, hard facts, but that’s what we have to do.

O&W: How does Clemson compare to other schools with parking priority?

Bennett-Hilderbrand: If you travel with our football team, you’ll see we still have the best parking of anywhere we go. We have more spaces that are close in to the stadium.

We take better care of our people when they get there as far as parking is concerned.

In a survey we conducted, we discovered that some schools do not give any parking until a donor reaches $1,000. With our good friends down at the University of South Carolina, all their levels are higher than our levels. They do not give reserved, numbered parking until a donor reaches $1,000 and have for years.

We have talked with a lot of other schools. The $1,000 level is where parking priority starts with most schools.

A lot of schools are now charging extra for parking. Not only must you reach a priority point, but they charge $50 or so to use that placard.

We still have the best overall plan and parking scheme with schools comparable to us, in the Southeast for sure. Our priorities are still lower than comparable schools.

O&W: When will football season ticket applications be mailed to donors?

Bennett-Hilderbrand: They will be going out on March 15 to only those donors who have either paid or pledged their IPTAY 2001 membership. Only those donors will get the first mailing. If they have not paid, they need to pledge. They can complete their pledge by June 15 to get their tickets.

It is most important for them to either pay or pledge by March 15 to get a ticket application.

O&W: How will away game and bowl tickets be handled this year.

Bennett-Hilderbrand: For South Carolina game tickets (in Columbia) all the donors will be ranked by the new Priority Point System. We will draw the lines whereby so many donors get six tickets, some four and some two.

In addition to the South Carolina game tickets, all away football games and bowl game tickets will be based on priority points only. Starting with the donor with the most points, we’ll rank the membership all the way down. We will fill those ticket requests by the point system.

O&W: What about recent changes announced with the Life Donor program?

Bennett-Hilderbrand: Effective July 1, 2001, we are changing the levels with the Life Donor program. The minimum gift with the Tiger Scholarship program will go from $20,000 to $35,000. The IPTAY Scholarship minimum will go from $35,000 to $50,000 and the Fike Scholarship minimum goes from $70,000 to $100,000.

We are doing that simply to take care of the needs of the program.

We want to underscore all of these changes are for the betterment of our great university, IPTAY and our loyal donors. We appreciate the support we have received for these changes as we continue our proud heritage with growth and success.

We would encourage any members with questions to contact us and we will be happy to serve you in any way we can.