Server blamed for ticket problem

By Will Scheff

Like a horror movie that spawns a sequel, “Son of the Pitt Basketball Ticket Debacle”… Like a horror movie that spawns a sequel, “Son of the Pitt Basketball Ticket Debacle” debuted at Pitt last week.

‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ But instead of a convoluted lottery system, this time the “monster” was a temperamental Web site that made online purchases of Pitt men’s basketball season tickets almost impossible.

‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ Most of the students who tried to buy tickets online ended up abandoning the site and going to the PetersenEventsCenter in person, calling the ticket office from cell phones while they stood in line.

‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ “I waited in line for three hours,” Junior Lindy Grone said. “Hopefully, the new athletics director can resolve this situation.”

‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ And that’s just what Pitt Athletics Director Jeff Long says he hopes to do.

‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ “I’m really disappointed by what happened,” Long said in an interview Monday. “I do believe that it’s important to make things [the best possible] for our students, which is why I felt so good about the plan I put together in Oklahoma.”

‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ Long brought the new system from the University of Oklahoma when he came to Pitt this year. Jeff Johncox, sports editor of The Oklahoma Daily, Oklahoma’s student newspaper, said the online system has worked fine there for the past two years.

‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ “Everyone who wanted tickets has gotten them,” Johncox said. “The online system was pretty effective at first, and now they sell all of the sports tickets online. I’ve never heard about any problems with [the server].”

‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ A writer for The Daily mistakenly reported that Oklahoma experienced similar problems with its server for football ticket sales, but it turned out that the problems were only with some people’s home computers, Johncox said.

‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ Long mentioned that Oklahoma has newer software than Pitt for the online ticket sales. But he said that Pitt’s online ticket sales provider, the Paciolan company, who provides “tailored ticket infrastructures” according to their Web site, assured Pitt’s athletic department that their older software would work.

‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ “That’s why I’m even more upset,” Long said.

‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ Paciolan representatives didn’t return calls made to them late in the business day on Monday.

‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ Some students were unable to get season tickets because of the online problems. But Jason Heggemeyer, director of sales and ticketing, wants them to know that they still have a chance to come to games.

‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ “We will have tickets on an individual-game basis,” Heggemeyer said. “We encourage students to go online at to find individual-game on-sale dates.”

‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ He added that tickets for certain games that aren’t picked up by season-ticket holders will be made available to students.

‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ While many students expressed their displeasure over the online problems, Long wants to make it clear that everything will be done to rectify the situation for next year.

‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ “I assure our students that we’ll do everything we can,” Long said. “Before we use the online ticketing process next year, we will have done everything possible to upgrade and test the system.” He said that this process would include upgrading the software, perhaps using additional hardware and maybe looking for a different Internet ticket-sales provider.

‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ Long also said that he wants to increase the number of students who come to the basketball games, since last year’s average student attendance was fewer than 800. And he said that it’s important to have as many students as possible sitting courtside.

‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ “I think the beauty of [the Pete] is that three-quarters of our arena is surrounded by students,” Long said. “They can be right there courtside. I think that creates a great atmosphere, and that it went a long way to help Pitt’s undefeated home record last year.”