WASHINGTON — Reserved seat season tickets in the new home bleachers at Washington Community High School's Babcook Field will be sold as a fundraiser for the 12th Man football booster club.
School Board members Monday unanimously approved a one-year season-ticket pilot program for the four regular-season varsity home football games in 2019 with two caveats: a ticket purchase limit must be established and it must be made clear that tickets cannot be resold.
Superintendent Kyle Freeman said the booster club plans to use season-ticket sale proceeds to buy a machine that will clean the artificial turf at Babcook Field.
Season tickets are $75, with $16 of the purchase price going back to the high school (game-night tickets are $4). Each season ticket will be laminated and water-marked with a punch-out area for each game.
The 250 reserved seats — 10% of the 2,500 seats in the bleachers — are in 14 rows in the middle section of the bleachers below the press box. One row at the top of the section and three rows at the bottom of the section will be open for general-admission seating.
Volunteer ushers from the booster club will ensure that only season-ticket holders sit in the reserved-seat area.
Senior and junior football, band and cheer students and their families will get the first and second chances to buy season tickets.
Not everyone in the community is on board with the fundraiser.
Residents contacted board members with concerns and two residents spoke against the program at the board meeting, saying the high school should benefit more financially from season-ticket sales and expressing concerns about security in the reserved-seat area.
"I'd prefer the money raised is used to reduce the financial burden on taxpayers," said Simon Petravick.
"This program smacks of the have's and have not's," Seth Phillips said. "We all paid for the these new bleachers (approximately $1 million) and everyone should have access to seats."
Freeman said the booster club helps the high school financially with its purchases, which include top-of-the-line football equipment "that keeps our kids safe."
On the issue of having 250 reserved seats, Freeman said, "there are still lots of good places to sit in those bleachers. There is more seating in the stadium now than we've ever had."
The new home-side bleachers at Babcook Field are on the former visitors side of the field. Seating is that area has increased from about 800 to 2,500.
The former home bleachers, now the visitors bleachers, have about 1,500 seats.
Board President Jennifer Essig said seating was an issue for her initially.
"I was on the fence with the season-ticket program until I was convinced there are many good seats in the new bleachers," she said. "Having these reserved seats doesn't inhibit anyone from getting a good seat."
Freeman doesn't think there will be problems caused by an adult or student without a reserved-seat ticket refusing to leave the reserved-seat area.
"That just isn't the Washington way," he said.
Steve Stein can be reached at (248) 224-2616 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @SpartanSteve.