Ticket stampede turns sluggish

About 45 minutes after the request period for tickets to USF’s first football game of the season began, more than 800 students had logged online and entered themselves in the drawing for a seat at Raymond James Stadium. At that rate, the number of students requesting tickets would surpass the total number of available student tickets within 12 hours.

That drawing never happened, however.

Over the next three days, the first-hour rush slowed down and when the clock struck midnight Tuesday — closing the request period — fewer than 8,000 students had applied for tickets.

The new ticket policy requires students to log on to gousfbulls.com to request a ticket during a two-day period a week or so before a football game. If more than 12,501 students request tickets, which is the number of seats available, then the students are entered into a lottery system. Because fewer students had requested tickets, everyone who applied automatically received a seat at the Tennessee-Martin game.

Tickets on the 200 level, which is one of the lower bowls in Raymond James Stadium and requires a wristband for entry, are still available. As a result, the Athletics department has decided to keep the request period open until Friday at 5 p.m. This is also the deadline for picking up wristbands for the lower bowls, which are available at the Marshall Student Center and Entry Three of the Sun Dome.

“It’s the first week of school, it’s a new ticket policy that students are just getting familiar with, it’s Labor Day weekend,” said Assistant Athletics Director for Ticket Operations Erik Book. “There are a lot of factors … we probably could have done a better job of getting the word out, too.”

Book didn’t disclose how many seats were still available but said students will be notified whether they will receive a ticket within 12-24 hours of requesting it.

Ryan Beckley, a junior majoring in electrical engineering, collected his wristband at the Sun Dome Wednesday. He was one of the first to request a ticket, since he filled out his information on Sunday.

“You don’t have to wait in a long line,” he said. “It’s a lot better.”

While the policy has garnered some fans, particularly those who work full-time and could not attend the all-night campouts for tickets last season, it has also left some students feeling frustrated with the process.

“I like the idea of logging in. I really do like that idea,” said Matt Aukerman, a senior majoring in business. “However, the fact that I requested my ticket at midnight on Saturday, instantly when I could, it’s not guaranteed that I’ll get a better seat than somebody else. That’s s—. I think you should have a place to order companion tickets, and it should be first-come, first-serve.”

Student guest tickets went on sale Wednesday at 7 p.m., which could dramatically alter the number of seats available for students, Book said. Students can purchase up to four guest seats for $16 each at gousfbulls.com.

“Since students can buy guest tickets, I really think that by Friday we’ll be completely out of tickets,” said Megan Latchford, head of student marketing for USF Athletics. “The 200 level will go quickly.”

This week served as a test week for the Athletics department, and it isn’t without its own share of growing pains, including one problem the department hadn’t thought of: some USF ID numbers don’t match those in the system.

Some students have tried to sign up to request football tickets, only to be denied by the online  “Student Ticket Zone” because their U-numbers didn’t match their login passwords, which are the last six digits of the student ID number, a 16-digit number on students’ USF IDs.

This occurs because a student’s ID number changes every time he or she loses or breaks the card and has to get a new one, and the University doesn’t update these numbers and match them to the students’ existing U-numbers, Latchford said.

Students who experience this problem should visit the Student Resource Agency in the Marshall Student Center between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. today and Friday, she said.

Students with suggestions for improving the policy or problems logging in, should e-mail usfstudents@admin.usf.edu, Latchford said.