Some Ohio State students say the same thing every year: OSU doesn’t offer enough student basketball tickets.
One student is working with spirit groups, Undergraduate Student Government and the athletic department to help solve the problem by implementing a new system, which would reward points to students who attend games and give them priority ticket ordering times.
“The reality is that from the number of tickets sold … only 57 percent on average are being used,” said Abby Waidelich, a former USG senator who is working to form a new policy that would change the way students buy tickets and fill the seats for home games at the Schottenstein Center.
Waidelich, a second-year in biological engineering, said she has been meeting with OSU senior director of ticketing and preferred seats Brett Scarbrough and students, including members of Block “O” and the Buckeye Nut House, which are both student spirit groups, to discuss options for what the best policy could be. Waidelich said she discussed seating statistics and tickets bought versus used with Scarbrough.
Scarbrough referred The Lantern to Matt Deptola, a member of the OSU Athletics Council, for comment.
“The main problem we’re trying to solve is that, on the outside looking in, students say that there’s not enough basketball tickets. They ran out last year in about four minutes, this year in about nine,” Waidelich said April 9. Waidelich said the lower bowl of student seating was filled for only five of the 12 home games included in the student season ticket package during the past season, leading her to believe the problem was not just ticket availability.
“We’re looking at the way tickets are assigned, because if students are buying tickets every year, but they don’t come to the games, that’s a problem,” Waidelich said. “We want a way to reward students who do come to games and make sure that their ability to buy tickets is maximized.”
Evan McElhinny, a second-year in environment, economy, development and sustainability who was recently elected to be the next Buckeye NutHouse director, serves as a voting member on the executive board of Block “O.” He said he’s worked with Waidelich on their ideas about improving the student basketball ticket distribution system.
“A lot of students who really want tickets are left out in the cold and some students just buy them to sell them for a sizable up-charge right after they buy them,” he said in an email. “Additionally, we have had issues with filling all the seats at home games (even though student tickets sell out within minutes every year), so we were looking for a way to incentivize attendance.”
McElhinny said he hopes the changes are made to the system.
“I personally really hope we are able to make the change,” he said. “Our new system would benefit those who truly love coming to games and it will boost the atmosphere in the NutHouse by getting more people to attend.”
As a member of the OSU Athletics Council, Deptola is part of the team that is gathering information about the policy, and said he has experienced ticket sell-outs personally.
“I purchased a season package my first year and loved it, so (I) attempted to buy another package my sophomore year,” Deptola, a fourth-year in public affairs, said in an email Thursday. “My second year, tickets sold out before I could get them, so I ended up buying a season package from someone who didn’t really want them,”
Third-year in economics and finance Charlie Altizer said his freshman year roommate waited for hours in an online queue for tickets, but when he refreshed the page, he lost his spot in line and was not able to buy tickets.
“I’ve always heard it’s really difficult to buy tickets, that they’re in short supply to begin with. I’ve never even tried to buy them that way,” Altizer said.
To formulate a specific set of guidelines for improving the ticket purchasing process, Waidelich has compiled a list of universities across the country with big basketball programs, such as University of Florida, University of North Carolina and Michigan State University.
Working with some students and faculty, she is currently comparing the pros and cons of each program’s student ticket policy.
“We’re trying to … look at what works and what doesn’t work for them, and then figure out to piece together a unique policy that works here because we have such a unique, diverse culture of sports here,” she said.
One example of a policy that could be implemented is a loyalty rewards point system, Waidelich said, where students who buy tickets and attend games regularly earn points that help position them for better seats and a greater likelihood of buying tickets during the next window.
“That would definitely help the student section,” said Robert Blair, a fifth-year in English. “If we want to get taken seriously like the Cameron Crazies at Duke, we should reward the loudest and most loyal fans.”
Other students, though, like Sarah Miller, a second-year in English, said reasons come up for not making it to games even when students have season tickets.
“Sometimes it’s just easier to not go than to try and sell your tickets. There’s so many games on weeknights that I think people can’t go to games because of midterms or homework,” Miller said.
While a final, detailed proposal has yet to be created, USG has already stamped its approval on the project. On Wednesday, USG passed a resolution to support “the pursuit of implementing a new student basketball ticket policy benefitting all students,” according to a document sent to The Lantern by Waidelich.
Waidelich said the next step is to compile all the information and take a proposal to Scarbrough for consideration.
“We want to hear the actual reality of (the other basketball) programs before we propose a solution (for OSU). Because without evidence of student support, without evidence that this would be successful, we don’t want to propose something too soon,” Waidelich said.
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