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Ticket requests surge 37 percent from last year

Mary Kate Malone | Saturday, September 9, 2006

A seat at tomorrow’s Notre Dame vs. Penn State game is so precious that the University had to turn down more than 30,000 alums who requested tickets to the event.

In fact, this Saturday’s football contest was the highest-requested game of all time, said Notre Dame Director of ticket operations Josh Berlo. The ticket office received 60,670 requests from alumni for 30,000 available tickets – a 37 percent increase in demand from last year.

There are several ticket lotteries for different University constituencies, but the ticket office uses the alumni lottery as the “benchmark” when determining demand.

Alumni who have made an annual contribution of $100 or more to the University can apply for two tickets to as many home and away games as they choose. The University received more ticket requests than tickets available for every home game this year.

Demand was so high that some 500 alumni were not given any tickets at all.

“It’s all driven by how many games an individual applies for,” Berlo said. “The more games you apply for, the better your chances of winning.”

Alumni were not the only ones affected by the high demand. Countless constituencies of the University have access to football tickets as well, and all were affected by the unprecedented number of ticket requests, said Vice President for University Relations Lou Nanni.

The University allots tickets for students, faculty, members of the Monogram Club and Sorin Society and countless other organizations. But Nanni did not say exactly how many tickets each group receives or how they allot them.

“That’s where you get into the specifics,” Nanni said. “There’s no quick answers, no quick and easy way. It’s like asking about the admissions process.”

Nanni did say, however, that the University is evaluating the current computerized lottery system – which was last revamped in 1997 – and looking for ways to improve it.

“We’re looking at the lottery and trying to make it more accessible to the average alum,” Nanni said, noting that Notre Dame faced a similar problem in the early 1990s when the football team was “at its peak” and the stadium had not yet been expanded.

“What we’re experiencing right now is not unprecedented. … [But] it’s really the first time that the lottery system has been put to the test since the stadium expansion,” Nanni said, referring to the $50 million stadium expansion completed in 1997.

Notre Dame’s ticket lottery system is unique, Nanni said. Most universities with top football programs have 80 percent of stadium seating set aside for season ticket-holders. But at Notre Dame, only 20 percent of seats are held for season tickets. By keeping the number of season-ticket seats low, the University enables more alumni to come back to campus.

“It’s one of the differences we pride ourselves on, to make the game more accessible to alumni,” Nanni said. “But this year has been a particular challenge so we have to revisit the lottery system to make some decisions to increase access.”