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Student Basketball Season Tickets Are A Rip-Off

I could’ve thought of a more creative title, but frankly, there’s little debate. Penn State took advantage of students who bought season tickets for the basketball team last year.

It’s pure economics. Penn State played 17 home games last season, and season tickets cost students $59. That averages out to $3.47 a ticket, which on paper, would seem reasonable. Single-game student tickets cost $5 at the box office, so it would appear that someone who attends every game over the course of the season would save $26.

But those numbers aren’t exactly accurate.

Consider the fact that Penn State went on Thanksgiving break from November 20 – 26 and winter break from December 17 – January 9. During those periods, Penn State played Youngstown State, Mount Saint Mary’s, Cornell, Indiana, and Purdue — a total of 5 games that most season ticket holders couldn’t attend. And then there was also the Senior Day matchup against Michigan, which took place on the first Sunday of Spring Break.

Certainly, Nittany Nation is a dedicated bunch, and I know many of them stayed late or came home early from breaks to attend these games. But to the average Penn State basketball fan who might want to buy season tickets, there were only realistically 11 games that they would be able to attend. That adds up to $5.36 a game, already more than the cost of a walk-up ticket.

That’s not all, though. There were two games this season that students were able to attend for free: gray t-shirt night against Illinois and UPUA sponsored tickets against Northwestern.

That means, if you eliminate the games during break and the two free games, buying student tickets this year resulted in a total benefit of NINE games. Nine. That’s $6.56 a game — more than a dollar and a half more than any other student would pay just by walking up to the gate on gameday. And that’s assuming that the average season ticket holder cared enough to drag themselves up to the BJC to watch teams like the Radford Highlanders or the Long Island Blackbirds take the court.

If you bought season tickets, you paid MORE per game than people who just bought a single ticket to every game. If you missed a matchup here and there–to get some work done, because you were out of town, or because you just had better things to do–you paid twice as much for your ticket.

I know, I know: there are other benefits to being a season ticket holder than just attendance at all the games. The annual season ticket holder-exclusive Nittany Nation t-shirt was great this year, and according to outgoing Nittany Nation President Steve Huber, they received many requests to buy the shirts separately.

“Some people in Nittany Nation would often joke, ‘Sure, you can buy a t-shirt. They cost $59 and come with free season tickets,'” Huber said.

The only other benefit to buying season tickets was being able to get into the BJC 15 minutes earlier than everyone else, which–if attendance was any indication this past season–hardly mattered.

But as it boils down, most student season ticket holders are paying at least $1.56 more per game than non-ticket holders for a t-shirt and early admittance. How hard would it be for Penn State to give the diehards a little more bang for their buck?

Season ticket holder-only practices, postgame shoot-arounds, or concession stand specials cost very little to Penn State but help add benefit to a greatly over-priced season ticket plan. The game-day giveaways this season were great, with snapback hats and Tim Frazier t-shirts, but the need to incentivize season ticket purchases is equally important.

Hopefully, there will come a time when Penn State students are forced to wake up at 7 a.m. and login to Ticketmaster to overpay for basketball tickets, or a day when Penn State students camp outside of Gate A to get courtside seats to watch a primetime national powerhouse basketball team run through the Big Ten.

That day is not today. The sooner Penn State realizes that, and stops trying to squeeze every cent out of their diehard fans, the better.

About the Author

Kevin Horne

Kevin Horne was the editor of Onward State from 2012-2014 and currently holds the position of Managing Editor Emeritus, which is a fake title he made up. He graduated from Penn State with degrees journalism and political science in 2014 and is currently seeking his J.D. at the Penn State Dickinson School of Law. A third generation Penn Stater from Williamsport, Pa., Kevin is also the president of the graduate student government. Email: [email protected]

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