Anthony Nixon is a die-hard hockey fan. During the Gophers season, the University of Minnesota senior and his friends attend both nights of every home series.
"We care more about hockey than we do football," he said.
But this year, to get season tickets, he had to buy a season of football tickets, too. That meant forking over nearly $400.
It "kind of put a bad taste in my mouth," he said.
"I was fortunate that I was able to budget for it, but not everyone was probably in that same situation."
On Thursday, the U's Student Senate unanimously passed a resolution opposing the new system as students rally against a ticket-bundling tactic many call unfair and overpriced.
The U describes the new system as a way to reward loyal fans with relatively low prices. But students interested in just one sport have had to choose between buying pricey tickets that they may not use or missing out on the sport that matters to them if the tickets they want sell out.
The bundling affects not only hockey lovers but basketball fans as well. They, too, need to accept football tickets.
The bundles were available only to students. In an early-bird deal over the summer, they could pair football and hockey, or football and basketball — or, for $258, get a combination of all three.
Trouble is, some students were left out in the cold. This year, no student hockey season tickets were left after the initial rush for packages.
Student Senate Chairwoman Valkyrie Jensen said the policy discriminates against students who can't afford to buy the bundled tickets.
"It gives athletics more money — and uses students to do so — which is not something the Student Senate is ever going to support," she said.
The Minnesota Student Association will weigh in on the issue next week.
The U offered student season ticket bundles last year. But there was also the option to buy tickets for just one sport. This year only football tickets were available package-free early on, with an option to buy them for $90 over the summer.
Ticket bundling is an unusual practice among the Big Ten. It has helped Gophers sales at a time when student attendance at football games is down across the conference.
To date, 6,260 student season tickets for football have been sold this year, compared to 4,975 in 2013 and 3,885 in 2012, according to Gopher Athletics.
"We feel like it's the best thing for the majority of student fans," said Senior Associate Athletic Director Chris Werle.
Having a ticket doesn't guarantee attendance. Of those who bought the hockey-football package, 25 percent haven't yet attended a football game this season, though that could change once the team starts playing regular season, Big Ten Conference games at home.
Nixon said he called Gopher Athletics after finding out about the bundled tickets and was told they're trying to increase student involvement in multiple sports, rather than having single-sport fans.
While he understands the intention, he said, the expectation may not be realistic. Students' busy schedules may make super-fandom impossible — or they might only be interested in one sport.
"My girlfriend just doesn't care about football," he said, "but hockey she's a big fan of."
Emma Nelson • 952-746-3287