The first wave of Penn State football season ticket changes, named the “Seat Transfer and Equity Plan” (STEP), went into effect this past week, which include changes in how season tickets are awarded by adding new donation requirements, as well as changing seat locations for existing season ticket holders.

First announced by Big Ten school in November of last year, the STEP process is expected to take roughly two years to fully implement, with the final stages set to wrap up in time for the 2011 Nittany Lion football season. The initial announcement of the new ticketing procedures was met with a mixed response from current ticket holders, with the main block of complaints centering on the increase in the required donation, along with the relocation of the Penn State student section to less desirable seats to accommodate the new donation system.

Prior to the implementation of STEP, each season ticket holder was required to contribute $100 yearly to renew their season tickets, regardless of where the tickets were located within the stadium. Under the STEP plan, the stadium is divided into four pricing sections, with required contributions beginning at $100 for the less desirable seats in the end zone, moving to $400 and $600 closer to midfield, and culminating with a $2,000 donation for a select set of seats at midfield with backs on them. The general admission ticket price for football games will remain at $55 per ticket.

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Besides altering the distribution rules, in recent years, Penn State has also grappled with ways of discouraging students from reselling tickets.

The first phase of the STEP program required ticket holders to make the decision whether to keep their season tickets in their name or opt to transfer them to family or friends. An estimated 4,000-5,000 season ticket holder opted to transfer their seats. The next stage of STEP will go into effect on September 1, 2010, when all current season ticket holders will have to decide whether to keep their current seats, and pay the potential additional costs should they be in one of the higher priced sections, or opt to move the location of their seats to a new section based on the new donation plan.

According to statements from Penn State athletic director Tim Curley, more than half of Penn State’s current season ticket holders won’t be affected by the new pricing system as they already contribute enough to keep their current seats.