Being a USF football fan isn’t for the fair-weathered or the indecisive.
At least, not if that fan is a student hoping to get into Raymond James Stadium for free come game day. With the launch of the University’s online ticketing system this fall, students will have to apply early to receive tickets to each home football game and prepare to be punished if they opt out of using them. It’s all part of the USF Athletics Department’s plan to offer as many seats as possible to students while attempting to ensure that no one takes advantage of the program.
“It’s a trade-off,” said Megan Latchford, head of student marketing for USF Athletics. “I ask students: ‘Do you want to have a nationally ranked football team where you have to put in some effort for seats, or do you want seats to every game, even though those games aren’t as exciting?’ Some sacrifices have to be made, and we tried to be as fair as possible.”
The lottery system keeps the Athletics Department from giving away more student tickets than there are available seats. It also has policies in place to discourage students from reserving tickets they won’t use and provides a solution for working students who can’t attend the all-night campouts for tickets that were popularized last season.
Applying for tickets Under the new system, students must visit gousfbulls.com and click on the “Student Ticket Zone” link to request a ticket about a week before each football game. For Saturday football games, such as this weekend’s Tennessee-Martin game, students will be able to request tickets from midnight on Sunday until midnight on Tuesday. The dates vary depending on when the game occurs, and a calendar is available on the ticketing Web site that informs students of when they can begin requesting their tickets.
Requesting a ticket involves little more than punching in one’s U number (using a 9 instead of a U) and an e-mail address. Latchford advises students to use the address they check most often, since students are notified of whether they’ve gotten a ticket via e-mail as soon as the requesting period has ended.
Students can then print out their tickets and take them to the game, along with their USF IDs. The Bulls’ most loyal sports fans will need to bring one more item to Raymond James Stadium, however: a wristband.
No wristband, no admittance
The wristband will allow students to pick out a seat on the 100 and 200 — or lower deck — levels of the stadium, which holds 10,000 student seats. The remaining 2,501 seats are located in the upper deck, which doesn’t require a wristband.
Students can pick up their wristbands at the Sun Dome box office up until the day before the football game. Any student who doesn’t claim his or her wristband by that date will forfeit the ticket, which will then be given to a student on the waiting list, should demand exceed 12,501.
Unlike last season, in which the Athletics Department replaced lost or missing wristbands, they will not be replaced this year, no matter the reason. That’s because students are no longer required to put on their wristbands as soon as they get them, said Assistant Athletics Director for Ticket Operations Erik Book.
“In the past, we replaced them when students had to cut them off for work or internships,” he said. “Now it’s up to them to decide when to put the wristband on.”
Getting the (green and) golden ticket
Determining who gets a ticket depends on how many students request them. After reviewing other universities’ ticket policies, gathering student input and expanding the student section to 12,501 seats, the Athletics Department carefully crafted its ticketing system based on loyalty points.
Should demand exceed supply at any given game, the 25 percent of students with the highest number of points are guaranteed a seat, and the rest of the students requesting a ticket will have their names entered into a lottery. The number of times a student’s name appears in the lottery pool depends on how many loyalty points he or she has.
“That doesn’t mean that a student with very few points has no chance at getting a ticket,” said Latchford. “The beauty of the lottery system is that at some point, it’s out of everybody’s hands. It’s up to chance.”
This helps students who work or have other major obligations barring them from attending campus and sporting events, which is one way students earn loyalty points.
No room for ‘fair-weathered fans’
This ticket policy also punishes students who decide not to use their tickets. Students who fail to attend two USF football games — despite having requested and claimed their tickets in advance — will have their loyalty points reduced to zero. This is done so that more students are able to attend football games, Latchford said.
Also, if demand exceeds supply at any football game, no companion tickets will be offered, meaning non-USF friends and family members will have to buy tickets for seats outside of the student section.
Collecting loyalty points
All students will automatically be given loyalty points based on their class status: Freshmen get 10 points, sophomores get 20, juniors get 30 and seniors get 40. This is because seniors have contributed the most in athletics fees to the University, Book said.
Students can earn points by attending sporting and major campus-related events. They’ll receive 10 points per home football game, 20 points for all away games and other official USF sporting events, and 5 points for select University events, such as Round-Up.
Other loyalty-point-awarding campus events will be released on the ticketing Web site within the next few weeks, Latchford said.
Furthering the “no fair-weather fan” mentality, the Athletics Department won’t swipe students’ IDs and dole out loyalty points as soon as students enter one of these events. Instead, the Athletics Department will determine during the game or event when they’ll swipe cards before making a formal announcement to the audience.
This policy is in response to concerns that some students will walk into an event, get their IDs swiped and leave immediately, Book said.
Students can also earn 50 points by joining the Student Bulls Club, the only organization students can join to earn loyalty points. This is because its members make a $25 donation to USF Athletics, which helps provide scholarships for student athletes, Latchford said.
To go on the road, get on the Web
USF will have a similar policy when it comes to road games, except students will have to include their credit card information when requesting a ticket, since away games are not covered in the athletics fee students pay along with tuition.
Should a student receive one of the 1,000 in-state or 500 out-of-state away game tickets that the Athletics Department has reserved, his or her credit card will be charged the minute the student receives an e-mail notifying him or her of the ticket. If the student doesn’t receive a ticket, his or her card will not be charged, Book said.
Students will be able to request tickets to away games about two weeks in advance. For the game against the University of Central Florida on Sept. 6, the requesting period begins this Sunday.
Keeping ‘Leavittown’ alive
Though this new system may have brought about sweeping changes to the way USF students attend football games, it doesn’t mean that “Leavittown” is over. Sure, students will no longer have to camp out to get their tickets, but the Athletics Department is open to students’ ideas for reviving the pre-game campout.
“A lot of students complained when they heard they wouldn’t have to camp out anymore, just because they liked the whole ‘Leavittown’ tradition that was forming,” Latchford said. “We’re open to any ideas they have. It just wasn’t fair to the students who had to work to set up the ticket policy that way.”
Students can e-mail Latchford their “Leavittown” ideas — or any general questions about the ticketing process — at firstname.lastname@example.org.
New ticket policy at a glance
Students who want to attend the Tennessee-Martin football game must request their tickets at gousfbulls.com click on (“Student Ticket Zone”) before midnight on Tuesday.
Ticket requesting for the UCF game begins this Sunday at gousfbulls.com.
Students can gain loyalty points by attending USF campus and sporting events, such as Round-Up (5 points), home football games (10 points) and other official USF sporting events, both home and away (20 points).
Students can lose all of their loyalty points by requesting and claiming tickets to a football game and then failing to attend on two separate occasions.
The Student Resource Agency, located in the Marshall Student Center, will have a representative on staff during business hours to discuss any questions a student may have about the program.