Charlie Markel Web Editor
For the first time in Ann Arbor Public Schools history, students are able to attend sporting events free of charge with valid school identification.
For years, Pioneer High School students and staff have tossed around the idea of free admission for students and with the administration changes, this year seems like as good a time as any to experiment with the idea. “This is the start of my third year,” says Pioneer Athletic Director Eve Claar. “This is something that’s come up since I got here two plus years ago.”
There are a number of perks for the students aside from just getting into Pioneer games free. Not only do students get in for free at home games, but games held at Huron and Skyline are also free to students with a present valid identification. “Ann Arbor high school students with a student I.D. can get into all in district games free,” says Pioneer AP American History teacher Jennifer Kunec. Kunec is the mother of starting quarterback John Kunec and one of the driving forces behind making this idea a reality.
As a result, students with a present Pioneer identification can be admitted to an event held at Huron or Skyline for free; even if Pioneer is not participating in the competition. This will hopefully bring fellow Ann Arbor students will support those at the other schools through athletics.
“I have not been to an event at Huron or Skyline yet,” says Pioneer senior Dillon Supica. “It could possibly be in the plans for the future.” Administrators from each Ann Arbor school hope all visiting students represent their school as we do ours.
With the free events, Kunec hopes this will eventually lead to greater involvement of clubs and groups associated with Pioneer. “There were a lot of ideas from parents and staff like halftime things we could do, between periods. I think we have a big thing coming up soon where one of the fundraisers would be like giving away prizes for kicking a field goal,” said Kunec.
One of the main fears of the athletic department was the idea of losing money with an ever diminishing budget. It used to cost everyone, including students $5 per person to gain admission to sporting events. Now the only profit from ticket sales will come from other spectators, such as parents and visiting fans.
The hope is that the new system will not have a major financial impact because, “the money just will not be there,” says Claar. “There is no plan to get [the money] from somewhere else to put it into the general fund. It will just be a smaller contribution from each of the three high schools.” The general fund is the money that comes into the budget and is spent on staff salary, building maintenance and other expenses along those lines.
The booster club’s funds are projected to benefit greatly from the change. Because students get in free, more students will show up. The larger attendance means that there is more people buying from concessions, which is run by the Pioneer Football Booster Club. “So much of the budgets for sports come out of concessions,” Kunec explains, “concessions sales were much higher. In fact, we ran out of everything.” It’s safe to say, week one of the new admission system was a liberating success.
With the season now in progress, Claar has yet to notice any major problems. “I think it’s a little too early to tell,” she says. “Bigger crowds sometimes bring different things. I think our student section has been pretty good in being positive and showing good sportsmanship, but we didn’t hold our students to that. We just hoped the students would fall in like with that, so we’ll just have to see as we get bigger groups that we remain positive as our students have done in the past.”
Families have been known to attend Pioneer sporting events as a fun way to spend an evening. “We’re hoping to see more people to come out once they get wind of this, and that it’s a place for kids to go, like a safe place, and now you’ve got a part of the Pioneer community. So say they have nothing to do, like in the winter, they could go to the hockey game,” says Kunec.