The promise of Kinnick's re-seat: a chance to pick good seats

Though Week 1 may be over three months away, tomorrow is a red-letter day for the 2014 college football season. Tomorrow we get to pick our season ticket seats at Kinnick Stadium.

Iowa’s athletic department is “re-seating” Kinnick for the upcoming season. I am unsure whether or not ticket prices have increased, but the seating priority system has been tweaked for the first time in probably a decade. What it boils down to is this: those who want better seats need to donate more money. Because… Well, I’m not sure why. It is not as if Gary Barta and Company don’t have enough money to roll in already. (I have slowly become convinced that the college sports system, especially at the FBS level, is an exploitative scam and should be reformed, top to bottom, or shut down. Honestly, I don’t think anybody in higher education can justify the insane profits being made on the backs of unpaid “student athletes.”) Regardless, the donation amounts don’t affect us since we do not donate much (and will not be donating more), but the re-seat gives us a golden opportunity: to pick seats we may actually like and want to keep.

Needless to say, I have not been completely satisfied with our football seats the last three seasons. Each year we moved to new seats (picked for us by the UI ticket office), and each year our seats have somehow sucked. Each location had its merits, but those were overshadowed by faults that spoiled the game day experience. Our seats in 2011 and 2012 offered great perspectives of the field, but they were in the sardine can known as the north end zone stand. Last year we moved to the west stand, in the shadow of the press box. The seating was spacious — my legs did not fall asleep once! — but there were three fatal flaws.

• First, we sat on the aisle and needed to look across it to the field. It was okay when nobody was walking past us — which was almost never. It was amazing. At almost every snap, someone was walking through our sightline.

• Secondly, we had to stand a lot. The lower one sits on the east and west stands at Kinnick, the worst one’s view of the field. Everybody stands in the front rows, forcing the people behind them to stand — all the way back to the twentieth row or so. It is worse on the ends since the stand runs parallel to the sideline; it seems half of the seventy-nine-row section needs to stand. I don’t mind standing every now and then, but do not want to do it the whole game just to see the field. Standing did, at least, ameliorate the problem with sitting on the aisle, but somebody’s head was always bobbing through our view of each play.

• Thirdly, the woman behind us liked to “grab.” That was the word she used during the first game last season: “You’ll have to excuse me. I like to grab.” And she did. She grabbed my arms and shoulders, or drummed my head during big plays. I put up with it for two games, but then I tired of being a human bongo. During Kevonte Martin-Manley’s second punt return against Western Michigan, when she was practically climbing onto my shoulders, I shot an elbow into her ribs and yelled, “Get the FUCK off me!” She didn’t bother me after that.

Those seats are, thankfully, long gone — snapped up by someone who is a higher priority for the athletic department. Let him be a bongo.

(I wonder, perhaps futilely and rhetorically, about the legality of such a priority seating system, especially since the UI is a public university. Iowa’s Constitution states that “the General Assembly shall not grant to any citizen, or class of citizens, privileges or immunities, which, upon the same terms shall not equally belong to all citizens.” Though the Iowa Legislature is not allocating seats at Kinnick Stadium, I wonder if the UI’s priority seating system runs afoul of Iowan’s constitutional right to uniform laws and treatment. Is it constitutional for the UI to grant me fewer privileges, treat me differently, than someone who has been getting season tickets since 1971 and donates $10,000 a year? Does his age and income mean he deserves better treatment than me?)

After last season, I thought I was done with Iowa football season tickets, done spending my money on bad seats. (To be honest, I like going to high school football games more than I like going to Iowa games. High school stadiums are intimate and the seats are great — and allocated democratically. There are also no media timeouts and no drunks. I hate drunks. And, since they are played on Friday nights, there is no need to get up early on a weekend morning.) I thought it would take a compelling argument to convince me to buy Hawkeye football tickets again, to not watch Iowa home games from the comfort of my living room couch. But I could not pass up the chance to pick our seats, seats we may like and want to keep.

Armed with the experience and knowledge I’ve gained the last three years, I’m going to do my best to pick good seats. I am putting a lot of pressure on myself because our game day experience depends on it. If we don’t like our seats this time, it will be my fault.

In that case, the Stub Hub Marketplace will come in handy.

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