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Mobile Ticketing & Assigned Seating Taints Some Bowl Trip Magic

For some Penn State students, trips to see the Nittany Lions compete in bowl games are just about rites of passage. Just ask the alumni in your family if you don’t believe us.

However, new policies seemingly implemented for Penn State’s trip to the Outback Bowl might just prevent some from cashing in on typical bowl game fun.

Just as Penn State did for its regular season, the Outback Bowl will use only mobile tickets for students heading down to Tampa later this month. In a release, Penn State Athletics said it will assign seats for ticket holders once sales close this week. In the fine print of ticket sale information, you’ll find that seating requests won’t be accommodated, although those who purchase two tickets at once will sit next to each other.

The last time Penn State geared up for a bowl game — two years ago ahead of the 2019 Cotton Bowl — students could make sure they sat next to each other by picking up their tickets together in person. Tickets were distributed in order, so friends could head to the Bryce Jordan Center’s ticket office together to ensure they’d wind up together come kickoff. With exclusively mobile tickets available, that no longer seems possible.

Frankly, what’s the point of purchasing bowl tickets through Penn State if the end result is seemingly random seating selections? I guess it might be nice to sit next to one friend, but splitting up big groups for the main event hardly seems worthwhile or even fair.

If you’re traveling with a large group, it’s hard to imagine that you and your friends could find a way to sit together inside Raymond James Stadium. It’s not a free-for-all like Beaver Stadium’s beloved student section. There’s no saving seats or sneaking friends in with paper tickets. Instead, barring the help of kind strangers willing to move, you’re likely stuck wherever Penn State’s behind-the-scenes system puts you. Bummer.

One distinct advantage of purchasing tickets from Penn State’s unspecified Outback Bowl ticket allotment is a student discount. However, thanks to the Ticketmaster system we all know and love, it’s not exactly clear what that discount is. The current online portal says $80 (that’s $30 more than 2019’s bowl, mind you), but Penn State declined to provide any specifics on student ticket prices, or even how many there were to go around.

Frustrations with tickets and seating might not be make-or-break struggles for all students, but it certainly sucks some of the joy out of big-time trips like this. There’s still plenty to do in Tampa over New Year’s, and you’d surely have a blast downtown if you’re able to legally drink.

The bowl game itself, though, feels less special this way. Should the ease of access granted by mobile ticketing outweigh the fun that a bowl trip typically brings? You’d think there could be some kind of compromise to meet in the middle.

At the end of the day, it almost certainly wasn’t Penn State’s choice to ration off seating randomly or use mobile ticketing in the first place. It’s hard to blame the Outback Bowl, either. But after dealing with student ticket fiascos all football season long, I was finally hoping to cap off my senior year by sitting with friends and heading to a bowl game. I didn’t realize that those two needed to be mutually exclusive.

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About the Author

Matt DiSanto

Matt proudly served as Onward State’s managing editor for two years until graduating from Penn State with distinction in May 2022. Now, he’s off in the real world doing real things. Send him an email ([email protected]) or follow him on Twitter (@mattdisanto_) to stay in touch.

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