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December 11, 2012

Readying for Reseating of Cassell Coliseum

By: Jimmy Robertson

The Tech athletics department and the Hokie Club plan on using
the same general process that was used to reseat Lane Stadium

Round 1 of the Virginia Tech athletics department’s reseating plan went quite smoothly.

Now, the department is planning for round 2.

Last spring, the athletics department and the Virginia Tech Athletic Fund (or as most know it, the Hokie Club) oversaw the Lane Stadium reseating project. Now, the department and the Hokie Club are making plans for the Cassell Coliseum reseating project for both men’s and women’s basketball.

This certainly comes as no surprise. In March of last year, the department announced plans to reseat Lane for the 2012 season and Cassell for the 2013 season. But time tends to slip up on people, so the Hokie Club recently mailed out a glossy document to every single Hokie Club member that explains the ins and outs of the process. The Hokie Club also plans on mailing out more information early next summer.

“The general process for reseating is going to be the same as it was for football,” said Scott Davis, an associate director of development who is helping oversee the project. “It’s just going to involve less people because of the size of the building and the number of tickets available.

“Right now, our first priority is to continue making people aware of the Dec. 31 deadline.”

Davis is referring to the Dec. 31 benefits deadline. Members’ contributions must be in by Dec. 31 to receive points toward the 2013 point priority ranking and thus be eligible for benefits. Members get to choose their tickets based on where they rank.

The reseating process will be similar to the process used to reseat Lane Stadium. The Hokie Club uses a “ladder” that recognizes a combination of giving and continuous years of purchasing season tickets. For men’s basketball, those who have been a continuous season ticket purchaser since 1966 take the top spot on the ladder and get to retain their location of seats. For women’s basketball, those who have been a continuous season ticket purchaser since 1999-2000 take the top spot on the ladder and get the first choice of seats.

Next comes contributors who rank as Benefactors, Century Champions, Golden Champions, Diamond and Platinum Hokies. Then, those who have purchased season tickets continuously between 43 and 46 years (men’s basketball) and continuously since 2000-01 (women’s basketball), followed by Golden Hokies and so forth.

The process also will be similar in that the basketball reseating will use the same online system, one designed by Ballena Technologies. This system allows ticket purchasers to monitor available seats before their selection appointments and provides an easy-to-use platform to select tickets.

After the Lane Stadium reseating process, the athletics department and the Hokie Club sent out a survey to each participant asking for their opinions on the process and the online system. The response was overwhelmingly positive, with more than 2,000 responses.

“We got a lot of high marks,” said David Everett, director of major gifts for intercollegiate athletics who is also helping with the project. “That’s not to say everything was perfect. We understand that, but most people agreed that a good process was in place and that the technology was good and that we were transparent with everything about the process. Our whole goal was to be fair, and we thought we accomplished that.”

The Athletics Ticket Office plans on sending out season ticket order forms in May, though that date is tentative. Both the men’s and women’s basketball programs need to firm up the 2013-14 home schedule – something that, in the past, has taken a while. If the ticket order forms get mailed in May, then the deadline for returning the forms will be in June.

Hokie Club members can order as many tickets as they want based on availability, but the same priority limits apply. In other words, a Golden Hokie can order seven tickets, but can only pick four seats at his or her priority appointment time. He or she picks the other three tickets at the end of the process as part of the last step on the ladder – tickets in excess of priority limits (according to rank order on the ladder).

In July, the Hokie Club plans on mailing a “How-To” guide that explains how to use Ballena’s system to those ordering tickets. This same “how-to” guide was mailed to those ordering tickets during the Lane Stadium reseating process.

“We’re encouraging ticket holders to use this guide and familiarize themselves with the site,” Davis said. “I think most will find it to be very similar to the one used for the Lane Stadium reseating, and therefore, the comfort level for our members should be higher.

“Then, in late July or early August, we’ll send out the appointment times, and the reseating starts. We think the process will take approximately three weeks based on order numbers from this year.”

As they did during the football reseating process, Hokie Club staff members continue to go to great lengths to educate, inform and also manage people’s expectations. Building new facilities costs money, and the scholarship bill continues to rise annually. The reality of the situation is building new facilities and paying scholarships have to be done to continue Tech’s undeniable success as a member of the ACC.

Reseating Lane Stadium and Cassell Coliseum doesn’t mean that the Hokie Club and athletics department do not appreciate Hokie Club members and season ticket holders’ contributions. On the contrary, they do.

“Our members have really stepped up their support to allow us to build needed venues and meet the rising cost of educating our student-athletes,” said Lu Merritt, senior director of development for intercollegiate athletics. “We can’t thank them enough.”

That’s why this process utilizing the “ladder” was created, one that rewards loyalty for longtime season ticket purchasers and rewards those who have contributed to the Hokie Club. This process marries the best of both.