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Officials optimistic about ticket distribution

Kate Gales | Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Students arriving at the stadium Tuesday morning to claim their season football tickets – recently raised to $159 apiece for Notre Dame and $212 for Saint Mary’s – discovered a lottery process that moved almost too fast.

Designed to ensure seating together, the lottery system requires students to travel to the stadium to actually buy their season ticket booklets, with the first lottery number drawn receiving the first pick at seating. But

As students reach the stadium, tickets are distributed in order of lottery numbers that are present. Seating begins with the lowest row number of one section, proceeds up to the top and then goes through the next section top to bottom.

Although Feltault observed “a bit of inconsistency on what time people could go in [to the stadium],” Gagnon insisted that the process was fair.

“We check every number,” said Gagnon. “If you don’t come early, we’ll take whoever’s there. There are people whose times should have been the second half but they got in in the first half because some people slept in…but in the line itself was in sequence.”

Students with low lottery numbers can move to the front of the line for tickets. However, it is their responsibility to make sure they are in the appropriate line position, Gagnon said.

“Students are very reluctant to do this,” he said. “They stand there like lumps because I guess it’s not a ‘cool’ thing to do. We’d have students be behind somebody in line, and that was their choice, but we checked every number as people came in.”

Berlo said that each ticket window has similar seats, so that groups going consecutively might have seats several rows apart.

Despite some student confusion over lottery numbers and frustration about the price increase, University officials were optimistic about the first day’s outcome of this year’s football ticket lottery distribution.

“On a one to 10 scale, it was a 10,” said Cappy Gagnon, coordinator of stadium personnel. “We’ve been doing this process for several years now … so everybody, I think, is now so experienced with it that they just do it right. We did virtually the whole [senior] class today in about an hour [and] 45 minutes.”

Josh Berlo, director of ticketing, said the process was relatively time-effective, with students waiting in line for 10 minutes or less. Although other methods of ticket distribution have been discussed, such as completing applications online and through the mail, the lottery ticket system allows students to choose their neighbors in the stadium, Gagnon said.

“Students have always wanted to choose who they sit with, and then compete in some way to get there early for tickets,” he said, recalling the tradition of students camping out in line for tickets – a process that changed in 1999 because of problems with safety, litter and alcohol consumption.

“We transferred to something that’s a lot cleaner and a heck of a lot more time efficient,” Gagnon said.

Berlo said due to student reaction, the University has explored the feasibility of transitioning to an online ticket distribution system.

“It’s something that we definitely want to do,” Berlo said of online ticket distribution. “We just want to support the students and see that their needs are met.”

Students expressed overall satisfaction with the speed of the process.

“I thought it was pretty decent,” said senior Jaimie Feltault. “The ushers were great in getting people along.”

Her classmate Spencer McSorley concurred, saying that the process “went smoothly.”

“We waited outside about eight minutes and once we were in the stadium and through the ticket line, we had about 15 minutes after that,” he said. “It was fairly quick.”

A larger source of student grumbling was the price of season tickets, which was increased to $159 and $212 for Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s students respectively. Both Gagnon and Berlo attributed the inflated price to athletic director Kevin White’s desire to fully fund all scholarship sports.

“One of the means to fully fund them was to jack the ticket prices,” Gagnon said.

“There’s 26 varsity sports that seek to win a national champ every year,” Berlo explained. “We are fully funded … [but] with the cost of tuition going up, the cost of a scholarship goes up. Ticket revenue is a major part of the revenue that supports all of our sports.”

Students will continue to receive tickets at a significant discount.

“I have not heard any discussions of changing the student discount or reducing it,” said Berlo. “We want them to be affordable for the students.”