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Penn State Targets Football Ticket Brokers As Renewal Process Begins

By Ben Jones |

Penn State Athletics has stopped the renewal process for about 460 Penn State football season-ticket-holding accounts, according to a department official. Those accounts — according to Penn State — were deemed to be ticket brokers and were notified via email as the renewal process got underway on Wednesday.

“…[W]e did an analysis of our inventory and servicing needs and are making an intentional effort to connect directly to our consumers by removing accounts whose primary purpose for purchasing is reselling their tickets” the email reads.

Penn State’s 2022 season ticket terms and conditions forbid purchasing of tickets for the singular purpose of reselling them.

“This ticket is a revocable license that only grants entry into the venue for the specified event of The Pennsylvania State University (“Penn State”) associated with this ticket (“Event”). Tickets may not be purchased for the primary purpose of resale and may be cancelled at the discretion of Penn State Athletics,” the terms read in the opening sentence.

A Penn State official spoke to but did not wish to be identified. According to the official, mobile ticketing — which Penn State transitioned to fully in 2021 — allowed the department to track various sale and transfer information, and in turn, were able to identify accounts that fit such a description. According to the official, those accounts were each in possession of several tickets, all of which regularly sold at or above-market value.

“We’re just running our business,” the official said, adding that season ticket holders who resell tickets to friends or family or even the general public were not targeted in the effort. The official was also confident that any fans who had purchased tickets but opted not to attend games due to COVID-19 were also not impacted.

It’s unclear at this time how many, if any, season ticket holders ostensibly in good standing with the athletic department were inadvertently flagged. The official said that the total number reflected roughly 1% of all accounts. Some reports on social media indicate that some fans may have been caught in the net, but there is no indication how widespread that potential error truly is.

Penn State is currently partnered with Ticketmaster for various ticket resale programs, primarily football, so Wednesday’s move is as much a business decision of cutting out the middle man and rerouting tickets and revenue back towards Penn State as it was anything else. According to the official, Penn State will potentially look for a marketing partner to help make the most of the recalled inventory. Penn State reported nearly $41 million in ticket sale revenues during the most recently completed and released fiscal year not impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Penn State’s 2020-21 fiscal year numbers are due within the first few months of the new calendar year.

A host of schools have implemented similar programs in recent years following the rise of mobile ticketing. For example, Pitt is currently partnered with StubHub for peer-to-peer resale through the university in addition to schools like Oregon, USC, Rutgers, Florida, and others.

“If you can’t make it to a game, you can place your tickets for sale on the University of Oregon Ticket Marketplace. Now you can easily sell your unused tickets online on a University of Oregon sponsored site,” Oregon’s resale literature reads.

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