By Brad Hoff–
Football and basketball games have been a big part of students’ lives at the University of Louisville. Each year hun- dreds of students buy season tickets to watch the Cardinals in person. Nothing is quite like the atmosphere of being at a football or basketball game and taking in all the sights and sounds they have to offer. A recent change to the student ticket policy has caused some students to miss out on this opportunity, but has filled those once empty seats in the stu- dent section.
The Louisville ticket office felt that the student section in the past few years has been lacking in attendance. Many students would buy their season tickets and then not attend games. This would cause the fans that missed out on buy- ing tickets, but wanted to attend the game, to be angry.
Erika Aemmer, the Assistant ticket manager, explains the recent change to the ticket policy and the reasons why it was put into place.
“We were noticing really low atten- dance rates for men’s basketball and football. It’s really important to us that they are full and that we have a student section that is vibrant and energetic and helping our team. It’s in no way, shape
or form meant to take away from the students or to harm the student body. It’s to make sure we have students who want to be here.”
In the past, when students purchased their tickets, they would receive a nor- mal ticket stub like an ordinary fan. This led to many students trying to give these tickets away to people including non-students. These problems led to the university changing the policy, so that the tickets would be put directly onto the student’s Cardinal Card. The problem with this was then students that wanted to attend the game, but were unable to purchase a ticket, would not be able to attend the game. This caused the student section to be lacking in fans.
SGA representative Jeremy Ball said the policy was put into place to help fill the student section and to “hold the stu- dents more accountable” so that the sec- tion wouldn’t be empty. He also stated that last year there was a forum held that asked the students what they felt would be the best way to fix this prob- lem so students could be a part of the process.
Claim your game
In order to increase student atten- dance U of L has put this new policy into place. This policy requires the stu- dent to claim the ticket after they have already purchased it.
Before each game there will be a claim period in which the student will be required to claim their ticket in order to attend the game. To make this work the ticket office has over sold student tickets. This new policy allows the stu- dents that plan on attending the game to claim their ticket and now those stu- dents that can’t make the game will not waste a spot.
“We are overselling but there is a cut- off point and it still allows pretty much everyone that has purchased the season pass to be able to claim,” Ball said.
This change in policy has already caused the student section to be full at both the Miami and Murray St. football games. Aemmers explains how much the policy has already improved atten- dance
“It’s been excellent. I’ve been here for four years and I feel like the policy constantly changes. I think it’s changed every year I’ve been here, but this is the first one that I think for us, the students and the coaches, are happy with. Even Murray State, a game where our attendance was extremely low, we were still able to fill the section and make sure people were there. That’s really impor- tant to us. “
Some other universities have also de- cided to adopt this policy. The director of ticket operation, Darren Graessle, talked about how the University of Arizona has already had this policy in place and has had a successful student section since it was implemented in 2003. Arizona stu- dents are not asked to claim their tickets for football games but are required to for basketball. Arizona has noticed great attendance since this policy change was put into place.
Change can hurt
Some students were disappointed to find that they were unable to claim their ticket and therefore were unsatisfied with the new policy. Despite the efforts of the ticket office to communicate with all the students and inform them of the new policy, some students were still un- aware of the change.
“We’ve tried to over communicate as much as possible; unfortunately, for us, there’s only so many ways we can tell the students without being in and on cam- pus with them.”
Louisville student Jacob Pleas said he was not satisfied with the new policy.
“It was easier when they handed out the actual paper ticket to the season ticket holders. It made it possible for students to give the tickets away so that someone could attend the game in their spot,” Pleas continued. “It can be hard to know for sure if you will be able to at- tend all the games in the claim period. Some students may not know that far in advance if they will be able to attend the games which could lead to them being penalized.”
The policy states that if a student claims one or more tickets during a claim period and does not attend at least 50 percent of the games that they claimed, then they are not eligible for the next claim period. Once that claim period is over, they will be eligible again. Some students were able to avoid the penalty by calling ahead of time and saying they were not going to be able to make the game after all.
“We’re working with them as much as we possibly can to let them know if they claimed the ticket and couldn’t go to let us know in advance. We would take that ticket off their account so that they aren’t penalized in the future.”
Free student tickets
Some schools have decided to allow their students to attend their football and basketball games for free, causing their student sections to be full. Aemmers was asked if it would be a good idea for Lou- isville to adopt this policy, but she didn’t think it was the best option for the uni- versity.
“Last year, we tried out a free student voucher. A couple of basketball games we sent an e-mail to all students that es- sentially said, ‘Hey, you can come get a free voucher for the basketball game for you and a guest,’ and we got rid of like 30. So that to us wasn’t really the answer. We want students to still purchase them. Obviously men’s basketball and football are revenue producing sports and we give them free tickets to everything else, so we want them to still purchase. At the same time, we aren’t giving them to students that aren’t paying for the season pass, so were keeping the season ticket intact.”
The University of Louisville is work- ing hard to find the best solution to fill the student section for every game. The university hopes the new policy will solve this problem and increase atten- dance rates for years to come.
For more information about the ticket policy, visit gocards.com and go to ‘student tickets’ under the ‘tickets’ tab. Also, if any students have any sugges- tions or concerns, be sure to contact a SGA representative so that your voice will be heard.
Photo by Austin Lassell / The Louisville Cardinal