Raising money is the one thing they’re (somewhat) good at.

You know, I was going to take this post in another direction until I saw the comments section was graced with this particularly astute observation:

The same guy who claims he’s a free market libertarian thinks organizations should be more fair with their supply when demand calls for a price increase.

Eeeh! Sorry Hans, wrong guess. Would you like to go for Double Jeopardy where the scores can really change?

For the record, I don’t have a problem in the world with what the market will bear.  McGarity and Morehead are free to stick it to the fan base to whatever extent they feel is suitable and we fans are free to take it or leave it as offered.

What I do have a problem with — and shockingly, it’s nothing new here at the blog — is how terrible at PR Georgia’s athletic administration is.  How clumsily has this increase been handled?  Well, let me count the ways:

  • They chased Hartman Fund contributions hard (remember the bait and switch to have a shot at Rose Bowl tickets, or the beat the end of the tax deduction pitch?) without a hint that an increase in ticket prices was on the way.
  • Rather than being forthright about a decision that even Stevie Wonder saw coming, McGarity felt the need to dribble out the euphemisms directly (“adjustments”) or indirectly (“modest”) before dropping the hammer with a 33% increase.
  • Blaming the increase on the effect of success as it relates to coaching salaries — “We plan to make substantial adjustments to the compensation of our coaching staff” — conveniently ignores the increases to ticket prices that kicked in previous to this season.  I guess we should feel grateful that McGarity didn’t blame one of those on the need to pay for Richt’s buyout.
  • McGarity and Morehead trotted out a new excuse yesterday “Football’s really our only source of revenue, significant revenue,” McGarity told the media afterward. “In order to maintain your other 20 sports at the level [now]; it’s not my intent to go to the other programs and have cuts. It’s not fair. It’s not the Georgia model. Because we treat all sports equitably. So, this was the way to fully fund those other sports at the same level we have.”  The “Georgia model” apparently is to leverage McGarity’s inability to locate and retain competent coaching hires who can raise other programs to a level of sufficient profitability with the football program’s success.  That certainly makes his job easier, even if, no, that really isn’t treating all sports equally.

At least they’re consistent.

To top it off, these guys are so arrogant and/or incompetent that can’t even manage a coherent job of presenting the decision internally.

Jesus, if you can’t even be troubled to present the obvious stuff to a willing audience in an open discussion, what the hell are you doing with the tough calls?

These days, Butts-Mehre only knows one speed:  strike while the iron is hot.  Luckily for our fearless leaders, they’ve had plenty of heat since Kirby’s come on board.  Maybe the magic will last forever, or at least long enough for them to reach retirement.  What happens when the worm turns, though?  Judging from the comments I’ve seen here and elsewhere, this hasn’t been sitting too well with those who have skin in the game, something I assume Greg’s cheerleaders, like our good friend whom I referenced at the beginning of this post, don’t share.

Maybe winning is enough.  I don’t know.  But when you pass along that kind of bump without offering any new, real amenities, it’s certainly a good way to test that premise.  My guess is the allure begins to wear off with enough price raising.  There’s only so much winning a team can do, after all.  And that’s when you’ll see Georgia athletics take the real plunge into corporate marketing, à la the NFL model.  I expect I’ll be gone by then, but for those of you who are cool with the current state of management, enjoy the show.

By the way, this particular gripe isn’t limited to Georgia.  Look at the craptacular consequences from the SEC’s foray into broadcast television, again the result of chasing the almighty dollar to its fullest extent, something I don’t have a problem with.  What does concern me is how poorly thought out those consequences were:  ridiculously unbalanced scheduling for both basketball and football being the most prominent example. (Do you realize that Georgia likely won’t have a single player on its roster who will make the trip to College Station until the 2019 signing class is in the books?)  Until this past season’s success, the number of noon starts in Athens for the benefit of television has been a joke.

Then, there’s the overall attempt to change the focus of college football from that of regional passion to national interest, because it suits the needs of ESPN and Fox.  The conferences are willing participants in that because it suits their financial needs (and because the commissioners believe themselves to be marketing geniuses, which they most assuredly aren’t.)

It’s all of one piece and it’s one reason I find the fretting from some of you over player compensation being the death of college football missing badly.  They could hold the line on amateurism for another decade while the rest of this crap continues merrily along and kill the golden goose just as assuredly.  It’s time for some of you to stop and smell what Sankey, Morehead and McGarity are shoveling.

It may be better in the short run to be lucky than good, but nobody’s that lucky in the long run.

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71 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, It's Just Bidness

71 responses to “Raising money is the one thing they’re (somewhat) good at.

  1. Jim

    Senator I don’t disagree with our consistently poor communication and PR.

    But if even Stevie Wonder could see the ticket price increase coming do you really think BM needed to advertise it when soliciting donations? If they had would we be chastising them for rubbing our noses in it?

    I think sometimes you get blowback on here because you seem to contradict yourself

    Like

    • But if even Stevie Wonder could see the ticket price increase coming do you really think BM needed to advertise it when soliciting donations? If they had would we be chastising them for rubbing our noses in it?

      Seriously?

      I sometimes have a hard time knowing when the snark is being thrown my way, but if you really mean that, I can’t speak for anyone else, but I would have applauded B-M for being honest about that.

      It’s not a bad thing to be straight with the fan base.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Jim

        See there you go again contradicting yourself with the idea you’d applaud B-M for anything. You’re funny.

        I’m sure you can link me to a past post or two where you gave them faint praise for something but I don’t think you’d applaud B-M if they found a way to turn Sanford into the Benz, offered free admission, allowed you to tap their phones and sit in their meetings while paying players every last dime of football revenue.

        I love your blog and have been reading daily since the beginning but you have to admit you whine a lot about certain topics. I get it – it’s your blog and we all read your posts. I always love new content from you no matter the subject

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        • This strike you as faint praise?

          I guess I’ll keep typing this until my fingers fall off, but if you’re not interested in a given topic, skip the damned post. I promise you I won’t be offended.

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          • Jim

            Nice. Once. Hunny that dress covers your oversized backside wonderfully!

            I’m interested in the topic which is why I read the post And commented

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            • I didn’t realize I had to bring my entire portfolio to get your approval, sir.

              You overstate your case and when I point that out, you move the goal posts. You got me!

              If you’re interested in the topic, then I don’t get the point in the last paragraph of your previous comment. Is there something going on with the ticket price increase worthy of praise? If so, why don’t you go ahead and make that case?

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              • Jim

                Not sure which comment you are referring to but my main point in my original post was that you were contradicting yourself by saying “even a blind man could see this coming” while at the same time complaining about not being told about it soon enough. And little contradictions like that are why you catch the grief that you quoted at the beginning of your post.

                Something going on with ticket price increases worthy of praise? I never said their was but since you asked:
                – our football team just completed their best season in nearly 40 years
                – BM has recognized that they need to step up and pay the coaching staff (remember how much grief BM got for not paying Bobo enough?)
                – we are investing in staff and facilities at an unprecedented rate (remember the complaints about lack of support for Richt?)

                If we’re going to commit to be the next version of Alabama somebody has to pay for it. Generally speaking the consumers of a product are expected to pay for the product. Yeah I know our reserve fund is big but I kind of like it that way. And I also know we raised ticket prices previously after a bad season but my UGA econ and finance classes taught me to expect that due to the inflationary world we live in and the principal of supply and demand

                I also think it’s worthy of praise that my understanding is that even with this increase we are still not top tier in the conference in ticket pricing despite being close to the largest metro area in the southeast, having one of the largest alumni bases in college football that has proven it will spend money on the dawgs and coming off an overtime loss in the NC game

                Could BM do better st communicating? Absolutely, and I agreed with that point in my original response

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                • Most of your comment is irrelevant to my post. I don’t have a problem with the raise per se, as I’ve stated repeatedly, so giving me justifications for it adds nothing. Besides, what does using fans’ enthusiasm for the football program to fund programs the fans aren’t passionate about have to do with “consumers paying for the product”?

                  You agree with me about B-M’s PR, which is only rational for someone who follows Georgia athletics. You want brownie points for that, be my guest.

                  The comment I was referring to? This:

                  I love your blog and have been reading daily since the beginning but you have to admit you whine a lot about certain topics. I get it – it’s your blog and we all read your posts. I always love new content from you no matter the subject.

                  Ah, and your big point — I’m contradicting myself. Since it was logical to assume a raise was in the offing, there was no need to mention it, right? If so, why dribble out anything before the meeting? Why the coy hints? You think it’s possible that the blatant bait and switch behind the Rose Bowl ticket offer might have colored fans’ perception of B-M’s honesty and McGarity had a sense of that? How hard would have been to combine the first tease, about an “adjustment”, with any of the late Hartman Fund pushes? (IMO, not hard at all if you wanted to be straight with fans.)

                  Honestly, you quibble with B-M’s PR, but it’s hard to see from your arguments how you would be any better at it. Assuming your fan base is prepared to be screwed is a helluva way to conduct relations with your paying customers. Interesting how little that bothers you.

                  Like

                • What about the contribution which is part of the ticket price now that it’s no longer deductible?

                  Like

            • OrlandoDawg

              You challenge the Senator to point to a post, he does, you dismiss it, and he’s the one who’s “funny”?

              Like

  2. Just Chuck (The Other One)

    So now they’re in a position to raise ticket revenue without announcing a price increase. Just dump the cupcakes on the schedule and replace them with more P5 schools.

    Like

  3. Bulldog Joe

    “Football’s really our only source of revenue, significant revenue.”

    It doesn’t have to be that way at Georgia. Louisville made $45.6M from its basketball program last season.

    Like

  4. MDDawg

    Who are you? Just another American who saw too many movies as a child? Another orphan of a bankrupt culture who thinks he’s John Wayne? Rambo? Marshal Dillon?

    Like

  5. Hogbody Spradlin

    Greg McGarity and athletic administrators in general are probably capable people who are experienced and possessed of sound judgment in their element. But, they seem lost in the current environment. Maybe there is a different skill set for true nonprofit management that doesn’t apply well when the organization’s revenues grow by leaps and bounds.

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  6. paul

    It’s pretty standard practice in almost any organization to do your homework, air your issues, make your revisions, allow for feedback and broker your deals before a vote has to take place in an open meeting. Janet is certainly not the first Board member to complain publicly about being asked to vote on something she saw for the first time fifteen minutes ago. This group does not seem to learn from their mistakes. One wonders what sort of ineptitude we don’t get to hear about.

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  7. Chuck

    Coaching salary increases? Lets see – $16/ticket average increase x 7 games x 55,000 season tickets = $6.2MM incremental revenue. Damn, that’s better than the tax plan bonuses….

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  8. Chuck

    We also had the SEC Championship / Bowl game extortion to increase contributions. Remember, every one of those additional $’s (over and above what people signed up for in February 2017 when they made their base contributions) effectively eliminated opportunity for a lower-level cumulative score contributor to received tickets.

    Like

  9. AdaWg

    Hey, Senator. I can’t afford the new season tickets. Now I want to sue to get my donation back. Want to represent me?

    Like

  10. Macallanlover

    I thought the whole post was going along great until, mysteriously, the old favorite, “throw them chill’ins some greenbacks” popped up. To me, the reason to not do that is because they are well “compensated” already. But there is waste in other areas as well. I feel BM is poorly managed, and agree they are killing the Golden Goose, albeit slowly.

    Like

    • You miss my point, Mac. I wasn’t making the argument for player compensation there, merely pointing out that those of you who are laser focused on it as doomsday for CFB are missing a more serious threat, because it’s already in play.

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      • JCDAWG83

        I think there is more than a little irony in the possibility that the big tv money may end up being a major factor in the death of college football.

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      • Macallanlover

        Maybe, but I feel increasingly empty stadiums are inevitable, and more survivable. They are trending, and it is gaining momentum. Good news is, big game match ups will still pack the house, and probably cost less in future years. You know, that old supply and demand thingy.

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        • Mac, they’ll just follow the game plan set by the NFL and MLBB: shrink the number of seats, add more luxury boxes and keep the prices up.

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          • Jim

            After experiencing the Benz, I have no doubt this is true

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          • AusDawg85

            This was sorta my point yesterday you didn’t like. If we keep winning, ticket prices will climb, a tipping point reached, and real new amenities like wide chair-backed seats, new concessions and more luxury boxes will appear in future Sanford renovations. There’s no money in adding $25 bleacher seats.

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  11. Chuck

    And lastly, this comes on top of the tax law changes eliminating the 80% tax deduction for donations associated with season tickets. That cost for someone contributing last year’s $550 minimum to purchase two tickets will add another $6-7 per ticket in 2018 ($550 x 80% / 2 tickets / 7 games x 20% combined fed/state tax rate under new law). This may all be a ploy to layer in some insurance for those cases where people just start contributing the minimum to retain current tickets. As an example, why should I give $500-$600 per ticket when $475 keeps me whole? I’m sure the wheels are already turning at BM to think about how to combat that.

    Like

    • They’ve already started doing that. Ticket priorities for the Rose Bowl and national title games were tied to 2017 contributions.

      Like

      • Sanford222view

        Not only that, the amount you donated in the current year was highly valued. I cleared the the cut off score by 20,000 points for the SECCG but could only get two tickets because I didn’t donate $5,000 in the current cycle. That is a major leap from the minimum to renew your tickets and about double (if I remember correctly) what it takes to get a parking pass with your season tickets.

        Like

    • I will be reducing my contribution this year, eliminating one ticket from my purchase, or telling the AA to pound sand.

      Like

      • AdaWg

        LIkewise. I was going for an increased donation in hopes of better seats, but now I’m thinking of giving them up altogether. I wouldn’t mind paying for good games, but damn near $1k for 2 seats for McNeese State and directional Michigan just sucks. I’d also like a better chance at post season tix. Doesn’t seem like getting 13,000 tickets for bowl games in a 70,000 seat stadium should be that hard. And the timing of this is just horrible.

        I really miss Damon, and not just for the jokes anymore.

        Like

  12. As I posted early this morning on last night’s thread, it’s time for the IRS to end the tax exemption for P5 athletic programs and the conferences.

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  13. JCDAWG83

    This is a classic example of the free market at work. BM has decided it’s product is in great enough demand that it is worth more money and it’s customers will pay more. The customers now get to decide if the product is indeed worth the higher price.

    I’m thinking the excitement of last season is still lingering enough that BM doesn’t have anything to worry about. If next season is similar to this past season, another price/donation increase may be on the way. The fans (customers) can vote with their wallets any time they become convinced the product is not worth the price demanded. For me personally, the idea that I can do better with the scalpers than the university is being further confirmed.

    Like

  14. Atticus

    Senator, I agree with all your points. A complete lack of discernment. However I will say this. As long as you keep paying for season tickets it doesn’t matter, what they do is irrelevant. You are condoning their actions with your purchasing behavior. It is a complete financial waste of money to purchase season tickets and donate money. For two reasons:

    1-They don’t need it, the revenue that comes in is far beyond what is needed from donations and ticket prices.

    2-Over the last 10 years I have saved over $20,000 (instead invested in index funds) in buying tickets and outside of the national championship I have gone to every game I wanted. And even then I could’ve paid for the ticket and been way ahead but to me its still a waste, I will never pay someone hundreds of dollars per hour to entertain me. Ever.

    I know you weren’t complaining about the actual raise in prices but why does it really matter whether they communicate it or not, it doesn’t really change the overall equation. And hopefully the lack of wisdom gets McGarity fired so it works out better for us in the end.

    Like

    • The reason I think it matters is because I can’t discount the possibility of a day of reckoning. Should that day come, crapping all over your paying customers at every opportunity is going to mean the chickens will be coming home to roost. Won’t be pretty, either.

      Like

    • 92 grad

      It matters because if BM was more forthcoming, positive, and pragmatic about the finances they could probably get more donations than they have gotten otherwise. The trick to development is to have your congregation be self motivated to gift as much as they can.

      Like

  15. Silver Britches

    It may be a 33% increase overall, but when you take out the McGarity Specials (Austin Peay, McNeese, etc.), the increase goes to 50%. That’s a lot. Especially after they said a few years back, “Look, we have to raise ticket prices. We’re going to raise them a little for ’16, and then raise them a little more for ’17.” The implication being, “then that’s it.” GUESS WHAT EVERYBODY? HAVE WE GOT NEWS FOR YOU.

    And I don’t really get the great gnashing of teeth by B-M about potentially paying the student-athletes. If this is any indication, they’ll just pass the cost on to us anyway.

    My biggest gripe isn’t the price hike. It’s that B-M feels the need to stick its hand out while the body of the 2017 season is still warm. Can we enjoy it for 5 minutes without you sticking your hand in my pocket?

    Like

  16. Ozam

    BM acts like it does because it can. Absent some inane proposal, the Board will rubber stamp everything. When is the last time a member has resigned in protest?

    While the University of Georgia is a public institution, football is very much run as a for-profit enterprise (with “free employees”)….it is this contrast that causes confusion and frustration.

    Like

    • JCDAWG83

      Football, like all varsity sports at Georgia, is run under the umbrella of the University of Georgia Athletic Association, not the University of Georgia and is therefore not encumbered by any of the rules, regulations and ethical constraints of the public entity that is the University of Georgia. The UGAA pays the actual University of Georgia the cost of tuition, room, board, etc. for all student athletes.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. They’re using the fucking recruiting renovation as a selling point. There will be like 20 non-players or non-recruits who get to experience that. Oh, we’re getting a little larger scoreboard. But, yeah, get your Hartman Fund donations in to experience the app new end zone. It’s there for the fans even though it’s not.

    Like

  18. It’s not that they do it or, for me, that they’re clumsy about it. They’re being straight up brash about.

    Best season I was actually old enough to enjoy but a lot of people(admin/AD) are going all in and are really selling out over a NC appearance. Bold strategy, Cotton. Call it whatever, I’ll call 3 price hikes in a very short time and pushing a recruiting/locker room renovation as a fan attraction greedy. Could really bite this program in the ass should we not sustain the success of 2017.

    Like

  19. ATL Dawg

    What they did is absolutely unethical. Pricing should be laid out ahead of time so that people know what they’re getting into. They’ve been accepting and encouraging donations for months without mentioning even the possibility of this. Now that they locked people into tickets, they spring a surprise price increase on them.

    I suspect that the main reason this was kept secret was so that it wouldn’t impact donations. Let people reasonably think that ticket prices will stay as is and make their donation decisions based on that.

    Like

  20. Aladawg

    Amen brother. Tell it all. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

    Like

    • I honestly don’t understand how continually crapping on your customer base is a sensible marketing strategy. I’m back to the question I posed a few days ago: is college football immune in the eyes of some folks to the normal rules of economics?

      Like

  21. sUGArdaddy

    The biggest problem with ADGM is that he was reared by Dooley & Foley, who were both excellent ADs in the old school SEC. But they’d have struggled now, too. Greg is really poor at communication, social media, and media savvy. If you want to see someone who is excellent at this, look at Greg Sankey, commissioner of the SEC. Listen to him in an interview and you’ll come away impressed. He’s active on social media in a positive and healthy way. You listen to him and feel like the guy knows what he’s doing.

    An AD (or commissioner) is like a politician these days, and he should treat it as such. Have town hall meetings with ticket holders/contributors. People want to be heard. The problem is that I’m not sure you can teach being good behind the microphone or keyboard, and I believe in our constant news and communication culture, it’s one of THE key attributes a high level leader must have.

    Everyone is on Frank Ros as the next AD. He’d probably be great. He’s had enough high level executive experience. But my vote has always been Matt Stinchcomb, because he’s intelligent, understands sports, AND has worked in the media. In this day and age, you HAVE to be able to use communication and the media to your advantage.

    Like

  22. hassan

    So if my increased ticket prices and donation minimums are to also increase support in other sports, do I get free baseball and basketball tix now?

    Like

  23. Chopdawg

    Renewable season-ticket holders were encouraged to make donations for 2108 before Dec 31. Of course that made sense, to be able to still use the 2017 tax laws.

    Now we find out that the season tix themselves will cost us $115 more apiece this season than they would have under last year’s price. So my 4 tix will cost $460 more.

    I’d feel a whole lot better about this if the UGAA had told me to expect a ticket-price increase at the same time they solicited my contribution.

    Like

    • Jim thinks you should have been smarter.

      Like

      • Jim

        Apparently a blind person could see it coming, at least according to the senator, so yeah.

        When are minimum donations going up again? Or are we assuming they won’t b/c J. Reid hasn’t clued us into that yet?

        Like

        • The issue isn’t what you, I or Stevie could see. It’s how B-M treats its customer base. Common courtesy, you know? Or maybe you don’t.

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          • Jim

            Man it’s easy to push your buttons!

            Like

            • I always love this triumphant note. If you didn’t want me to respond, why did you post the comment in the first place?

              Like

              • Jim

                Whatever gave you the impression I didn’t want you to reply?

                Look, as I said in some of my original comments this morning, I love your blog and have for a long time. We’ve only gotten into it once before that I can recall and it was in the early days of Richt’s decline and I was one of those fans that wanted him fired probably earlier than others

                I’m sorry if my comments thru the day have offended you. My simple observation that your original post, which in my view, was premised on you pushing back on commenters criticizing you, contained, in my opinion, just the type of contradiction that causes people to criticize you (which you clearly don’t like).

                For that observation, I’ve been referred to as “snark”, “overstating your case”, “moving the goalposts”, “comment is irrelevant”, “want brownie points”, “wouldn’t have a better PR strategy”, “how little screwing the fan base bothers you”, “Jim thinks you should have been smarter”, “don’t know common courtesy”, “triumphant note”.

                So yeah. Simply pointing out an observation I had about you being thin skinned seems to have pushed your buttons. I was expecting a reply, but not one that contained your passive aggressive insults

                I’m sorry I said you were funny too. Or that there are topics you whine (my description) about.

                You win. There, take that.

                Like

    • Greg McGarity, J. Reid Parker Director of Athletics

      Yeah but we didn’t want to take the chance that you would adjust your donation if you knew that ticket prices were going up. You need to see this from our perspective as well.

      Greg

      Like

  24. Raleighwood Dawg

    I made the bungee jump to give up my season tickets back in 2007. I’d spent the previous few years only giving the minimum because I didn’t think they gave a crap about me as a fan. Since then, I’ve bought my 2-3 tix per year on the secondary market and never looked back.

    As someone mentioned above, this is straight-up unethical and tasteless. I wonder if Greg realizes how inept he actually is? This is how I imagine the price increase meeting went down: Someone asks Should we raise prices this year? McGarity (as Colonel Sandurz from Spaceballs) immediately screams Prepare ship for ludicrous speed!. He’s hell-bent on getting all of your money that he can.

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    • Jim

      So you gave up your season tickets because you didn’t like how you were being treated but somehow UGAAA or BM or whoever didn’t miss a beat because there was somebody ready willing and able to step into your shoes? Who’d have thunk it?

      I gave mine up last year just because the home schedule kind of sucks and I can buy tickets to the games I want to go to – better seats – on the secondary market. But I never assumed the powers that be saw me as anything other than a wallet

      Like

      • ATL Dawg

        So what exactly is your point? That nobody should complain or criticize? You act like you understand something that is lost on those who still buy tickets but voice complaints.

        Like

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