Ticket sales raise fairness questions
The 1,250 discounted football tickets sold by Student Government this week for Saturday’s game at the University of Central Florida left some students who waited in line empty handed and questioning other students who bought dozens or, in some cases, even hundreds of tickets at a time.
“From what I’ve heard here, the first couple of people in line bought huge transactions,” said Ticket Office Supervisor Bobby Loman. “I had a lot of people come up and say, ‘How were they able to do this?’ They should have limited it so every student could have had an advantage. If they had limited it to eight tickets per person, it would have been a little more fair.”
Loman said the USF Ticket Office typically caps the amount of tickets allotted to each individual student in much the same way the St. Petersburg Times Forum limits the amount of tickets for its concerts and events, but SG allowed well over the single-digit mark for individual students.
Many of the students who purchased a large number of tickets were members of Greek organizations on campus who anticipated long lines and a limited number of available tickets.
One student, Interfraternity Council Treasurer Charlie Aguirre, said he paid close to $2,000 cash for about 400 tickets.
“I called up each fraternity and sorority president and said they should start collecting money for the game. My goal for the whole event was to have the Greeks unite and have us all go as a whole to the game,” Aguirre said.
Students affiliated with fraternities or sororities were treated like non-Greek students and were not allowed to purchase tickets in advance, Aguirre said.
“A lot of people were under the impression that Greek students got those tickets before they went on sale to the public,” he said. “I just wanted to say that wasn’t true at all. People were complaining, but I told them I had to wait, too.”
Student body President Frank Harrison said the intent of the project to provide discounted tickets was not intentionally aimed at Greek Life.
“As far as us going around to chapters, we never went anywhere,” Harrison said. “This has been in senate for weeks now, we discussed this over the summer. There are plenty of students with different student associations and groups within the senate who could have easily told their friends to take advantage of this opportunity.”
Aguirre said he started planning on collaborating a massive Greek Life outing to the UCF game about two weeks prior to the first day of classes.
According to Aguirre, the original plan was to pay for the tickets through UCF’s ticket office, but when SG announced it would sell discounted tickets at USF, Aguirre decided to stay put and buy his tickets at the Phyllis P. Marshall Center.
“I believe I was as fair as everyone else,” Aguirre said. “Anybody else could have called up their friends and did the same thing I did.”
On the first day, Aguirre said SG offered one free ticket for every 10 tickets purchased. That day, he bought about 120, he said. On Tuesday, for every 11 tickets purchased, one free ticket was allotted. Aguirre said he purchased about 300 of those tickets.
Vice President of Programming for Sigma Phi Epsilon and former student body Vice President Andrew Aubery said he bought about 70 tickets for his fraternity members and friends.
On Tuesday, he said he skipped class to wait for two hours to be the first in line.
Already prepared weeks ahead of time, Aubrey gave the clerks a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet full of University ID numbers.
“I heard someone bought 270 tickets,” said Mat Ratner, president of the USF Bulls Club. “I don’t know exactly who it was, because I wasn’t there to see it firsthand. I just had people that were in line come and tell me that someone who was first in line bought 270 of the tickets.”
Ratner also said the system SG used to distribute tickets was faulty and many people said they wrote down fake University ID numbers.
“All you had to do is give them a sheet of U numbers, and they would count out how many U numbers you had and give them that many tickets,” Ratner said. “They didn’t look it up, they didn’t swipe a card to see if you were a student.”
Harrison said the cost of providing that type of system would have far outweighed the potential cost of having a few non-USF students purchase the discounted tickets. Harrison also said capping ticket sales would have hindered success.
“There were plenty of different opinions on how the tickets should have been sold,” Harrison said. “This is the first time that we’ve ever tried this method. We’ll be working to perfect it in the future years to come, but at the end of the day, students are still excited to be going to this game. Capping the tickets would have, in effect, made it more difficult for groups of students to go to these events together as group.”
SG bought the tickets from UCF for a discounted price of $12 and then sold tickets to students for $5. According to Ticketmaster.com, regularly priced tickets range from $24 to $30. After the tickets sold out on Tuesday, SG continued to sell full-price tickets.
Suzanne Parkscontributed to this article.