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Ticket event poorly executed

Observer Editorial Board | Friday, October 28, 2005

Students waited outside the Joyce Center for hours in the cold Wednesday for “Late Night with the Legion” in hopes of getting men’s basketball tickets – fully prepared one year after tickets sold out at a torrid pace. But once inside, the eager students’ excitement turned to disappointment as the first-ever “Late Night with the Legion” session unfolded. Energy waned quickly and the event did nothing to spike it.

“Late Night with the Legion” was an event that meant well – hyping up the men’s basketball season is a perfectly good idea, but in this case it was poorly executed.

Students were forced to sit in the Joyce Center arena stands for two full hours in order to get their vouchers that enabled them to purchase tickets Thursday and today.

And why did they sit? Only to watch the men’s basketball team run mundane practice drills, among other activities. Sure, there were vaguely entertaining contests, including a hamster ball race and a shootout between a student and Irish head coach Mike Brey, but nothing extraordinary. Nothing to make Irish fans truly enthusiastic about this year’s basketball season.

And so there were students watching the World Series on pocket televisions in the Joyce Center. Others weren’t even paying attention to the walk-on tryouts that took place because they were talking with their friends, totally disinterested. Then there were the students who couldn’t afford to spend more than two hours on a Wednesday night trying to get basketball tickets because of tests, projects, group meetings and other academic obligations.

While the event itself was poorly executed, the overall process to get tickets was worse. So bad that two e-mails had to be sent to the student body so it could understand the process. A wristband to get a voucher to get a ticket book. That’s just one too many steps.

There has to be a better way to distribute tickets and generate enthusiasm for the basketball program. True, Notre Dame is a primarily football school. But that doesn’t mean it can’t have a successful ticket distribution system and at the same time generate enthusiasm for basketball. Since coming to Notre Dame, Brey has done a good job increasing student interest in the basketball program, but Wednesday night’s event was a step back. If an event like “Late Night with the Legion” is going to happen, it needs to be exciting, something that students will deem worth their time. Notre Dame should look at what other schools such as Duke, Kansas and North Carolina do at “midnight madness”-type events as an example. Notre Dame is not any of those schools, but can make use of their models to help generate excitement for its program.

As for tickets – although there were extra vouchers left from Wednesday – some sort of ticket exchange, whether it be on NDBay or through the selling of partial season tickets to students, needs to be implemented soon. This will be key in generating a loud, enthusiastic student section, as the more students that go to games, the more excited they will be.

The reality of the situation is that Notre Dame is, and probably always will be, a football school first. But that doesn’t mean basketball doesn’t play an important role here, and it doesn’t mean it can’t play the role it did in the 1970s when the Irish broke UCLA’s legendary 88-game win streak. But the first step to generating the excitement that was once present is implementing a ticket process that truly serves the student fans.