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Basketball promotion criticized

Kate Antonacci | Friday, October 28, 2005

In years past, students awoke in the wee hours of a cold October morning to line up outside the Joyce Center with one goal in mind – to leave with basketball season ticket booklets in hand just as the sun was coming up.

But this year, due largely to complaints about the system and low student attendance at games, organizers decided to alter their method of ticket distribution.

“I think they had a great idea with the whole ‘get everyone out and pumped for the basketball season’ thing, but I think maybe if they had advertised it a little bit earlier or made it a little more exciting it would have gone better,” junior Brigid Bulfin said.

Bulfin was referring to “Late Night with the Legion,” the event held Wednesday at the Joyce Center from 10 p.m. to 12 a.m. where students obtained a redeemable ticket voucher to be exchanged for a ticket booklet – but only after picking up a bracelet upon entering the JACC and waiting for two hours to receive the voucher.

“It seemed somewhat unorganized as we tried to get into the JACC to get the bracelets,” junior R.J. Kornhaas said. “Then there was a mad rush when people realized they could leave to get the vouchers at the end.”

Bulfin, who is picking up her tickets today, said that obtaining a voucher was a long and confusing process that would have gone smoother if the actual ticket booklets had been distributed at “Late Night with the Legion.”

“If people knew that they could get tickets instead of having to get the voucher I think more people would have come,” Bulfin said.

Buying the $60 ticket booklets Thursday at the JACC went smoothly as anticipated, said Josh Berlo, director of ticket operations.

“The voucher and subsequent purchase process went smoothly,” Berlo said. “The system was successful, from a ticketing and operations standpoint it was efficient and expeditious.”

Ticket vouchers could be redeemed beginning Thursday from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. All vouchers can be redeemed for ticket booklets until 4 p.m. today.

“Lines were extremely short [Thursday], a five-minute wait at most,” said Berlo.

“If you have the voucher you’re going to be able to buy tickets so there isn’t a rush to get over there,” Kornhaas said. “I have all day tomorrow to go.”

A total of 2,700 bracelets were initially available and “well over 1,000 booklets were picked up [Thursday],” said Berlo.

Though many students waited in the JACC for the full two hours Wednesday, the Notre Dame ticket office notified students by e-mail that there were still a “limited number of ticket vouchers” available. Tickets will be issued to Notre Dame students only beginning at 7 a.m. today at Gate 10 of the Joyce Center.

During “Late Night with the Legion,” students watched walk-on tryouts and heard from varsity basketball players and head coach Mike Brey.

“I was expecting much more energy from the team,” sophomore J.T. Platek said. “I was hoping for the team to put on a high-energy dunk display or be a little more vocal.”

The free event was meant to excite fans about the upcoming basketball season while also giving students a chance to guarantee tickets.

“Without tying it to ticket distribution, it would have been a fun event to get pumped about the basketball season,” Bulfin said.

Still, some students were frustrated with having to wait hours in order to obtain vouchers.

“For a campus that is so dependent on sports, I couldn’t believe students were forced to choose between watching the World Series and getting tickets,” sophomore Eamonn Bahnson said. “Rather than improve the basketball arena or put a winning team on the court, the University and the basketball program decided the best way to increase student excitement was to make them stand in the cold and watch the team take lay-ups for two hours.”

The timing of the event proved to be a problem for many students, who thought Wednesday night was not the best time as it conflicted with studying and other obligations.

“I thought that it was relatively calm and that they probably wanted a lot of energy,” Bulfin said. “It was a Wednesday night so people weren’t exactly excited about it.”

Senior Joe McCarthy was unable to attend “Late Night with the Legion” and subsequently will not hold season basketball tickets as he has the past three years.

“I think that they had a good idea going to sort of celebrate the beginning of the basketball season,” McCarthy said. “For me personally, it didn’t work out with my plans. I had a football game at 10:30 p.m.”

Though McCarthy did not attend the event, he said he was not excited about the whole process when he heard about it.

“Most people don’t have anything to do in the early morning … but a Wednesday night, I just thought it was sort of overkill,” he said.

But McCarthy was impressed with the speed at which ticket booklets could be purchased after a student obtained a voucher.

“It was actually a pretty smooth process this morning. I didn’t get tickets, but I went with one of my friends and it was pretty quick,” he said.

Student government is working on a ticket share program that will allow students to sell individual game tickets and alleviate the problem of season ticket holders only attending a few games, leaving many empty seats at home games.

“It seems like they encourage you to give your tickets to someone else if you’re not going to be at the game. They want to fill the student section for every game,” said Kornhaas, who will be selling his tickets to a friend before he leaves to study in London for the spring semester.

“I know they’re in a tough situation because the demand is higher than the number of tickets,” said McCarthy, who plans on buying tickets to a few individual games now that he does not have season tickets. “I felt like they were trying to get people hyped up, but most people were just there to get tickets.”