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Originally published May 19, 2009 at 12:00 AM | Page modified May 20, 2009 at 12:53 PM

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Fan bailout: UW supporters asked to help others with season tickets

The Washington Huskies on Monday unveiled a plan called "Dawgs Supporting Dawgs" in which fans will be asked to make donations to help support those who could not renew football season tickets for economic reasons.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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Desperate economic times call for increasingly creative measures to sell luxury items — such as college football season tickets.

So the Washington Huskies on Monday unveiled a plan called "Dawgs Supporting Dawgs" in which fans will be asked to make donations to help support those who could not renew football season tickets for 2009 for economic reasons.

"This will be a good opportunity for people to be able to hold on [to their tickets]," said Roy Shick, the school's associate athletic director for development.

The school has already received a sizable donation from Husky Fever, a group of UW supporters who help raise money for various athletic-department programs, to kick-start the effort. That donation will buy two tickets for about 100 account-holders, the school said. The school is now asking for additional donations to help more fans and will seek funds through July 24.

Fans won't get their old season tickets back but will be seated in general public ticket areas. However, they will get to maintain their priority points standing based on consecutive years of purchasing season tickets.

"When you don't renew you lose all your years [of being a season-ticket holder], which is a very high value here at Washington," Shick said. "We didn't want people to lose that based on a [struggling] economy."

A $500 tax-deductible gift will buy tickets for two fans. A $1,000 gift will buy four. Shick said this will likely be just a one-year plan with the hope that ticket holders will be able to again purchase their own seats in 2010.

The idea arose after about 80 season-ticket holders, including some members of the Tyee Club, noted that they were not renewing this season strictly for economic reasons.

Shick came to UW in September after six years at Arizona State, where he knew Derrick Hall, the president and CEO of the Arizona Diamondbacks. The D-backs instituted a similar plan three years ago, purchasing season tickets for fans who had dropped them for economic reasons. UCLA also has a "scholarship program" for some basketball ticket holders.

Shick said recipients have not yet been selected, saying the school kept a list of those who noted they couldn't renew for economic reasons and will "reward" as many as possible in July.

While helping some fans keep their seats, it will also help UW pump up its ticket numbers at a critical time for the department, which depends on football season tickets for 85 percent of its revenue. Season-ticket sales have dropped from 55,072 (not including students, faculty and staff) in 2002 to 43,497 last year. UW's most recent count for renewals for 2009 is 38,750.

Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or bcondotta@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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