Some Ohio State students, many of whom had waited in line for hours for tickets to the USA-Mexico World Cup qualifier, were shut out after dispersal was switched midday Tuesday to a lottery in favor of a first-come-first-served system.
Police were called at about 2 p.m. to maintain order after an estimated 200 people lined up for tickets to the sold-out Sept. 10 game at Crew Stadium, an undisclosed number of which were being sold for $25 to students.
U.S. Soccer received more than twice as many requests for tickets as could be accommodated in Crew Stadium, which has a capacity of more than 24,000, so a lottery was held for those tickets as well, according to NBC Sports ProSoccerTalk.
Although students had been told by D-Tix, the university’s student ticket discount service, staff members they could start lining up at 2 p.m. for a 5 p.m. dispersal, the crowd started to form at 10 a.m. and continued to grow, some students in line said.
“We got here at 10:45 and there was nobody else here. They said we got here early and we thought it was first-come-first-serve. And then (in the afternoon) there was a huge mob of people wanting tickets,” said Tim Ianni, a third-year in political science.
Others had a similar experience.
“We got here by noon and they told us the line didn’t start until 2 p.m. so we went over to Subway to grab some food and when we got back it was crazy,” said Colin Marth, a second-year in finance.
The sheer mass of the crowd prompted D-Tix to then switch to the lottery system, which would close at 5:30 p.m., said Dave Isaacs, OSU spokesman for Student Life.
“There was concern for safety, and it was becoming impossible to tell who was first… It was the best way to accommodate all people interested in the tickets, taking into account both safety and fairness,” Isaacs said. “There was ultimately no danger once the decision to make it a lottery was understood by all.”
The OSU Police Division was called in, setting up speakers to communicate directions more clearly and clearing the group of students away from the counter in order to form a coherent line, said Max Taylor, a second-year in aerospace engineering.
While the safety issue may have been resolved, not all students are convinced of the “fairness” regarding the change.
Taylor said he had arrived at the Union at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, skipping both an engineering and writing class, but was later disappointed with the lottery decision.
“I wasted my entire day sitting there, and now I probably won’t get tickets,” Taylor wrote in a direct message on Twitter. “I have no idea why we weren’t allowed to start forming the line earlier. It was a stampede when they tried to open the line, and it’s lucky no one was injured.”
Not everyone, however, was as upset with the change.
Some students said with such an unforeseen crowd gathering, it became near impossible to make out which students arrived first and who had simply pushed their way to the front.
“Based on the circumstances, it was understandable for D-Tix to change it to a lottery,” said Jackson Hamilton, a third-year in economics.
Students are to be notified by email Wednesday with the results of the lottery, Isaacs said.
University Police representatives were unable to be reached for immediate comment Tuesday night. Isaacs said the number of tickets to be distributed could not be disclosed.
Dan Hessler contributed to this story.
An earlier version of this story was published with the headline ‘Crew ticket release causes chaos in Ohio Union.’ In fact, the ticket release was for tickets to the USA-Mexico World Cup qualifier, not for a Columbus Crew game.