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In rough economy, UCLA changes ticket prices -- some jump 33%

February 5, 2009 | 10:43 pm

Bruin fans are discovering that UCLA ticket prices will change next season.

If you want the best seats for a UCLA men's basketball game, be prepared to pay a premium price for them.

A season ticket for the Floor Elite and Middle Elite sections in Pauley Pavilion will jump from $856 to $1,140 for the 2009-10 season, a 33% increase, even though the Bruins will play host to two fewer games. Two years ago, a comparable plan cost $656.

"I just want you to know, on behalf of everybody here at UCLA, we appreciate you," football Coach Rick Neuheisel told fans during halftime of a recent basketball game. "I promise you it's worth it, because we're rolling to the top!"

The price of success isn't as steep in the Rose Bowl, where even the most expensive season package is $369 for six football games, including a visit from California. Last year it cost $388 for seven games, including USC and Tennessee.

There is good news for Bruins fans who are just happy to be in Pauley Pavilion. A single upper level ticket for a men's basketball will remain $40 for premium games (including Pac-10 play and UCLA's opponent in the Pac-10-Big 12 Hardwood Series) and will go up only $1 to $25 for most other opponents. A season package will fall from $616 to $600, but includes two fewer games.

The cheapest reserved football seats will also go up by $1, to $36, except for the Cal game, which will be $45.

"We did a lot of studying and looked at different issues before we made the decision to raise ticket prices," said Marc Dellins, a UCLA spokesman. "The athletic department, in order to stay competitive in all of our sports, needs to find avenues to generate revenue."

Raising prices isn't popular even during the best economic times, but fans hesitant to renew their packages might consider how expensive it is to put a kid through college. The athletic department pays for at least 280 of them. [Update: The athletic department said it pays for the equivalent of over 280 full scholarships and, including partial awards, helps about 450 student athletes.]

"We're facing the same economic issues as our fans and we're sensitive to what they're going through," explained Dellins. Those issues include everything from higher travel costs to lower returns on the school's investments.

The program currently spends about $9 million per year for grant-in-aids. That covers their athletes' tuition and fees, which could go up by as much as 9% to 10% next year. It also covers room and board, which could jump 5% or 6%. The total increase for the athletic department could run $750,000 next year alone.

Ticket sales, donations, television contracts and sponsorships account for the majority of UCLA's $64 million in sports-related revenue.

While most football and basketball seats will go up slightly, UCLA is taking steps to take some of the sting out of the increases. Donor levels for the Wooden Athletic Fund, ranging from $100 to $25,000 [UPDATED], haven't changed since 2003 and will remain the same in 2009-10. A general admission season football ticket will also be available for $99, and kids under 12 will be able to get into the general admission area for $5.

Among other changes, the most expensive single-game ticket for men's basketball will go from $52 to $70. Donors in the Blue section for football games will pay $6 more per game.

Student ticket prices will remain the same next year. A full Bruin Den package including all football and men's basketball games is still $149. Individual basketball games will cost $10, except against Cal, which will cost $20. Students are admitted for free to all other UCLA regular-season sporting events.

-- Adam Rose

[Updated to correct the donor levels. An earlier version of this post said the levels range from $25,000 to $300,000.]

Photo by Adam Rose / Los Angeles Times