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Why Are Lines for Guest Football Tickets So Long?

When I overcame the initial excitement that my boyfriend would be attending his first Penn State football game against Northwestern on Homecoming weekend, I abruptly realized the headache that I had gotten myself into.

For those who haven’t needed to buy a guest ticket yet, allow me to explain the hoops you’ll need to jump through to obtain one.

Normally, when you’re looking to buy or sell tickets for the student section, most transactions are directed to the Student Ticket Exchange. Guest tickets are an exception; student tickets sold on the exchange must be converted into guest tickets at the guest ticket office. The guest ticket office, located at the Bryce Jordan Center, is open from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Wednesday through Friday, and you can purchase tickets for any home game during those times. In order to make a general student section ticket into a guest ticket, the teller finds an available ticket on the Student Ticket Exchange, adds an additional $30 fee onto the listed price, and loads the extra student ticket onto your ID card.

Although GoPSUSports allows online student-to-student ticket transfers, guest ticket purchases must be done in person. This is how I, along with every other rule-abiding individual who didn’t want to take the risk of “sneaking someone in,” found myself waiting outside of the BJC last week.

At the onset of my wait time, I noticed that the people behind me were checking the Student Ticket Exchange to see how many tickets were still available. For the UMass game, there were 11 tickets available for the 60 people that were waiting in line. For Northwestern, there were none. When the line stopped moving, it was evident that the ticket representatives were doing the same thing we were: refreshing the Student Ticket Exchange and waiting for tickets to become available. This meant that after the first 11 tickets were sold, each person in the line would have to wait until someone somewhere on campus decided to put his or her ticket up for sale. Then the line would move to the next person… and we would wait again.

The most frustrating aspect of the three and a half hours I spent in line last Wednesday was the lack of communication between the ticket representatives and the people waiting. Many individuals waiting at the end of the line had no idea how many tickets were available. They didn’t realize they were waiting for something that may or may not even exist.

At one point, a representative told us about the ticket shortage and an alternative $40 special student ticket offer. However, this valuable information was not communicated to those at the end of the line (who were certainly more likely to accept alternatives than the people up front). If more people waiting had taken that deal and sold their original student tickets, then the line would have continued to move and more people would have gotten tickets.

There were no written rules or descriptions regarding what you can and can’t do to obtain guest tickets. Many people in the line assumed tickets could be traded or transferred from a friend’s card to your own — for example, I trade my UMass ticket for your Northwestern ticket. I had one friend who wanted to sell her ticket for the game to me, but in order to make that transaction, both of us needed to be at the BJC. This is inconvenient for students, and it adds unnecessary people to the already unreasonably long line.

My experience forces me and every other determined student who waited in line last week to ask: Why isn’t this process done online? On the surface, it appears that even the University of Michigan has a better system than Penn State does. There, students are able to buy extra student tickets online, then can just go to the ticket office to validate them. This way, each student that waits at the Michigan Stadium already has an additional student ticket and is there solely to pay the $30 guest fee.

After venting to a Penn State student ticket office representative, I got some answers. Guest tickets cannot be sold online because the student version of the Student Ticket Exchange system will not allow two tickets to be put on one card — it processes this transaction as an error. Only the internal ticketing system at the BJC has the ability to override that error. It is a shortcoming within the program, and he assured me that he would fix it if he could.

In response to my Michigan comment, he noted that our ticketing system operates differently because Michigan students have physical tickets for football games. This means that students can trade and sell the tickets without a website or third party. He told me that if there were any tickets to print at Penn State, the ticket office would print guest tickets — but because the student section here is sold out, the supply of student tickets that the office sells come from the students who are season ticket holders.

Although this may have been his way of telling me that Michigan still sucks, there’s no way that Penn State shouldn’t be able to find an alternative to this mess.

Students trying to buy guest tickets for this week’s match against Northwestern should check the Student Ticket Exchange for availability before waiting in the long line at the ticket office.

The student ticket office representative anticipates that, due to the nice weather and the fact that it’s Homecoming, there won’t be many guest tickets available. However, if they are, they will most likely be available later in the week — so don’t go to the BJC on Wednesday like I did.

Or maybe you should just avoid this whole mess and instead check out the $40 tickets on sale until right before kickoff on Saturday. This offers you the opportunity to turn a profit on your student ticket and still get into the game on the student section side of the stadium.

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About the Author

Alex Calderaro

Alex Calderaro is a junior majoring in Supply Chain Management from Central Jersey. As a first generation Penn Stater, she has found a home here in several places, including her sorority, and, of course, Onward State. You can contact her at [email protected] or follow her on twitter @alexcalderaro.

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