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How Penn State’s Student Football Ticket Program Compares To Other Major Programs

Penn State’s 2017 football season kicked off on Sept. 2 when the Nittany Lions downed the Akron Zips at Beaver Stadium 52-0. As usual, the student section was rocking with thousands of screaming fans carrying on a historic Penn State tradition.

Most of the students in attendance — aside from those who obtained tickets through the student ticket exchange — woke up at the crack of dawn a few months ago to secure their spot in those seats. However fortunate those students were, there were plenty more who didn’t have such luck.

Although the student section is considered to be one of the best in college football, it accommodates less than half of all undergrad students at University Park. Every summer, students are required to wake up at 7 a.m. in the middle of June to purchase their season football tickets online on their corresponding day.

Unfortunately, problems with Ticketmaster’s website prevented people from obtaining tickets. Without season tickets, these unlucky fans are left to purchasing tickets through the university’s online TicketExchange portal.

Tickets can be re-sold there for any price ranging from $10-60, but nobody really uses the re-sale option because a “transfer” option exists. With the transfer option, students can transfer tickets amongst each other without spending money on the portal. This eliminates the middle man and leads to unmonitored negotiations of ticket sales between two students — meaning the seller can charge whatever they want for tickets.

What’s worth a mention is the fact that Penn State Athletics is one of the only self-funded (non-university funding) athletic programs in the nation.

With the current problems students face with buying and selling football tickets, here are examples of how other schools with huge football programs distribute their football tickets.

University of Tennessee-Knoxville

Tennessee’s student ticket program is completely different compared to Penn State’s, as students aren’t guaranteed a seat to every game. Individual tickets are sold for each home game on a first-come, first-serve basis. Students request a ticket approximately a week-and-a-half before game day, and if their request is approved, they pick up their tickets and pay a week before the game.

One problem that both schools have is that the student section only accommodates less than half of the total student population. Neyland Stadium’s student section has an approximate capacity of 10,000 compared to 27,000 students, so a smaller percentage of Vols fans have access to the student section in relation to Penn State’s.

Tennessee fans seemingly relive the stress of the Penn State student ticket sale on a weekly basis, but they are spending less money on their tickets each week. Tickets for each game cost just $10.

If you want to attend every Tennessee home game this year, you would have to pay just $70 to do so, which is significantly cheaper than Penn State’s $218 season ticket plan — and that’s assuming you get season tickets.

Overall, UT’s ticket program may be much more stressful than Penn State’s, but it’s far less stressful on your wallet.

University of Georgia

Georgia’s process of acquiring tickets is fairly similar to Penn State’s: students buy season tickets on a yearly basis. However, Bulldog fans buy tickets for specific seats in the stadium, whereas in Happy Valley, you are given your seating assignment at the gate.

However, a key difference between Penn State’s ticket acquisition process is this: Georgia’s season tickets cost a mere $60 compared to the king’s ransom charged by Dear Old State.

Georgia’s resale process for tickets operates on a different platform than Penn State’s. If you buy tickets but don’t attend a game, you are required to “donate” your ticket back to the school, where they re-sell it to somebody else and pocket that money. The university runs the whole re-sale process, so they won’t overcharge you for tickets. While students won’t make money on the tickets they don’t use, $60 for an entire season’s home slate — which includes a visit from Mississippi State that could run fans into the 100s — makes the overall process worthwhile.

If you don’t go to a game and don’t donate your ticket, a strike is put on your student ticket account. If you accumulate two strikes in one season, you are ineligible to buy tickets to any postseason games. Additionally, you become ineligible to purchase season tickets for the following season.

This system is great for the university and takes the hassle out of buying tickets for those who opt to not buy season tickets, but the big losers here are students who don’t go to games. Unlike Penn State, there is no “transfer” option with UGA’s ticket system; this takes away the student’s ability to set their own price. If this system is implemented at Penn State, students who opt not to go to games would miss out on a decently-sized profit.

Overall, Georgia’s system for football tickets is far more fair to students who don’t get season tickets, and Penn State could learn a thing or two from the Bulldogs. Not only is the process more convenient for students, but the university also benefits from it; they make more money on re-selling tickets.

Texas Tech University

Similar to other schools in Texas, all students are guaranteed access to student tickets if they pay for them; a charge for football tickets is put on their bursar account — $57.20 in 2016 — and those who pay this charge are allowed into football games.

This policy is clearly fairest for students because everybody gets access to football tickets without having to rush to get them or buy them individually. Although fair, this program is simply not feasible at Penn State.

There are two huge reasons why every student cannot be entitled to season football tickets at Penn State: 1) the current student section would have to double in size to fit everybody in, and 2) if the school took away 20,000 general admission tickets, they are taking away 20,000 seats from the general public, including alumni, traveling fans, and families.

Nearly every problem that exists because of Penn State’s current ticket system would go away if this system was in place. However, due to the size of Beaver Stadium’s current student section relative to the student body at the University Park campus, this isn’t possible.

Which of these three other school’s student ticket policies would you want implemented at Penn State? Do all of these suck and should Penn State just keep things the way they are? Let us know in the comments below.

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About the Author

Mikey Mandarino

In the most upsetting turn of events, Mikey graduated from Penn State with a digital & print journalism degree in the spring of 2020. He covered Penn State football and served as an editor for Onward State from 2018 until his graduation. Mikey is from Bedminster, New Jersey, so naturally, he spends lots of time yelling about all the best things his home state has to offer. Mikey also loves to play golf, but he sucks at it because golf is really hard. If you, for some reason, feel compelled to see what Mikey has to say on the internet, follow him on Twitter @Mikey_Mandarino. You can also get in touch with Mikey via his big-boy email address: [email protected]

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