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Wisconsin Season Ticket Renewals Fall; Barry Alvarez Blames Economy

Jun 25, 2009 – 4:50 PM
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Mark Hasty

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Barry Alvarez, former Wisconsin Badgers head football coach, during a 2005 game with North Carolina.Barry Alvarez (pictured right), the former head football coach and current athletic director at the University of Wisconsin, is definitely a glass-half-full guy. Most athletic directors would be sweating if their season ticket renewals fell from 99% of current ticket holders to 94% in a single season, which is what has happened, according to the Wisconsin State Journal.

From the outside it might seem like the football team's recent squishiness might have something to do with this sudden dropoff in renewals. The Badgers have stepped back a bit every year under head coach Bret Bielema, with last year's squad barely breaking .500 and getting stomped flat by a toothless Florida State team, 42-13, in the Champs Sports Bowl.

Nope, says Alvarez. Taking a page from Bill Clinton's 1992 campaign manual, he says it's the economy, stupid. That's why more than 3,000 season ticket holders aren't going to re-up to watch the 2009 Badgers.

Alvarez and Bielema even went so far as to send a letter to those who renewed, stating, ""We are truly humbled by your response, particularly in light of the nation's economic downturn and the corresponding financial challenges that it brings to all Badger fans."

Then, of course, Alvarez let it slip that he expects a 100 percent renewal rate among men's basketball season ticket holders. The Badgers haven't missed March Madness since the 1997-1998 season.

It's very gallant of Alvarez to protect his young, hand-picked successor by distracting attention away from the increasingly unwatchable product the Badgers are putting on the field. This, however, is some of the spinniest spin that ever was spun. There is a near-universal perception in Wisconsin that the Badgers are not moving forward right now and, fair or not, the blame is falling at Coach Bielema's feet. Without a significant turnaround in 2009, it's hard to determine just how much longer Alvarez is going to remain loyal to Bielema.

Of course, if Alvarez has to let his coach go, I suppose he can always say it was for economic reasons. That might not even be spin.
Filed under: Sports