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Regulate The Student Football Ticket Secondary Market: An Open Letter To Penn State Athletics

As every Penn State student knows, buying football tickets might be the most stressful part of your four years in Happy Valley.

Setting alarms every five minutes starting at 6:30 a.m., anxiously waiting to see what place you’ll end up in the Ticketmaster queue, and finally seeing the “congratulations” message pop up on your screen can be an exhilarating experience. But, on the other hand, devastating for those who aren’t as lucky.

Then, you have kids ready to flip season tickets within minutes, trying to sell them for up to $1,000 on GroupMe or Facebook, while it’s only $246 to buy them directly from Penn State. Think about that for a second. If you do the simple math, dividing $246 by seven games gets you about $35 per game. But, some students are left paying $142 per game. (Editors note: If you can’t get football tickets in the future, keep in mind that you should never buy them for $1,000 right after they sell out.)

Die-hard Penn State football fans and students that desperately want to cheer on the blue and white are then, basically, ripped off in heartless fashion by other students trying to take advantage of the situation. This creates another problem, as you then have students buying non-student tickets for a cheaper price and sneaking into the student section with ease, making it overcrowded and almost unenjoyable for those who already have student tickets. It affects everyone, and the system is broken.

You might think I’m anti-Ticketmaster or talking about the process of buying tickets, but I’m not. Honestly, there isn’t much you can do when you have 100k students across the commonwealth that are competing for 22k seats in the Beaver Stadium student section. It’s only fair that it’d be a toss-up. What needs to be fixed is the selling and buying process between students.

Up until before the 2019 season, Penn State hosted the “Student Ticket Exchange,” which allowed students to sell tickets to other students via Penn State Athletics’ Ticketmaster platform. Students were only able to list their tickets for a maximum of $60. The exchange ended up failing because there was a catch — students were able to transfer a maximum of three tickets to “friends.”

Of course, those students took advantage and flocked to Facebook or GroupMe to resell their White Out tickets for more than the $60 price ceiling on the Student Ticket Exchange. The department then went away with the platform after realizing that 77% of secondary ticket exchanges in 2018 were transferred.

Now, we’re stuck trying to find tickets by ourselves, hoping that we don’t get ripped off. To get an idea of how ridiculous the price hikes are, go take a look at Onward State’s Student Ticket Exchange. Besides the fact that some people are attempting to sell Minnesota and Ohio State for up to $1,000 each, which is just absurd, people have also listed lower-tier games like Central Michigan and Maryland for over $100 each. Let’s grow up, now. Going to see Penn State put up 70 points on Central Michigan in a blowout is not worth that much.

It is so abundantly clear that Penn State Athletics needs to step in here to limit students flipping tickets and give everyone a fair opportunity to cheer on the blue and white with 107k of their closest friends. I’m honestly surprised that it hasn’t even been changed at this point. It’s time for the department to come out with an official platform for student resale.

Luckily, my former colleague Anthony Fiset outlined a few possible solutions the department can pursue back in 2019, citing Northwestern’s secondary market as the closest to perfect. There, students who wish to sell their tickets put them in a large pool. The department will then start selling the tickets at a high price and decreasing it until the last ticket is sold. Whatever price the last ticket is sold at is what everyone pays and those who paid higher prices are reimbursed for the difference.

I’m not saying that Northwestern’s process would work for Penn State, but the department could learn a thing or two from it, or other schools, too.

Another possible solution is to just bring back the platform and prohibit students from transferring tickets at all, forcing them to sell any games they don’t want to go to. That system isn’t perfect, as some students would genuinely like to transfer a ticket to their friends, but it prohibits price gougers from taking advantage of the situation.

Either way, I think we can all agree that the current system is broken and needs to be fixed. Dr. Kraft, if you’re reading this, please take this into consideration when evaluating student football ticket procedures for next season. It’s only fair to everyone else who bleeds blue and white and wants to see some good ol’ Penn State football.

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About the Author

Frankie Marzano

Frankie is a senior accounting and economics major from Long Island, NY. You can probably recognize him as the typical Italian-American with slicked back black hair. He is an avid fan of the New York Rangers and Mets, along with every Penn State Athletics team. Follow him on Twitter @frankiemarzano for obnoxious amounts of Rangers and Penn State content or email him at frankie@onwardstate.com.

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