Editorial: Pitt student ticket system needs to be rethought

By The Pitt News Editorial Staff

Last night’s basketball game versus Duke saw high numbers, but not in points — in ticket sales.

The secondary market saw high resale values, with some resold tickets (on sites such as StubHub) selling for more than $80 for standing-room-only tickets and upwards of $100 for seats. Many of the tickets resold at increased prices in the days leading up to the game were student tickets to the Oakland Zoo, the Pitt basketball student cheering section.

As the student ticket system stands right now, tickets are non-transferrable. In order to be admitted to a game, the name on a student’s ticket must match the name on their student ID and the name that appears on the barcode scanner’s screen when checked at the door. If these three names do not match, as would be the case if a ticket was resold, then the student will not be admitted to the game. Students have said on occasion that they were able to make it in to games, but the admittance is never guaranteed and, according to the University’s Athletic Department, should never happen. 

Pitt’s Athletic Department should consider an overhaul of the current system’s structure that would enable students to transfer their basketball tickets to others, either by setting up a ticket exchange similar to that of professional sports teams through third-party ticket sellers, or by enabling students to resell their tickets through the Athletic Department’s website.

The current process for buying student basketball tickets is based on a loyalty point system. For games that have relatively low demand for tickets, students are able to purchase tickets through the Athletic Department’s online portal. When demand for student tickets at any given game rises are above a particular threshold, students are entered into a lottery system to determine who will receive tickets to that game. Students earn loyalty points by attending past basketball games, and depending on the number of loyalty points a student has accumulated, his or her name may be entered in the lottery more than once in order to increase the chances of receiving a ticket.

There is no option that allows students to transfer their tickets to other students if they change their mind about attending a game. Instead, many students resell their tickets through social networking and secondary ticket-selling websites at increased prices in order to make a profit. By buying these resold tickets, students risk losing money in the case that they are not allowed into the game because the names on the repurchased ticket and the student’s ID do not match.

The Athletic Department should enact a new ticket selling structure that promotes a fair transfer of student tickets. An ideal reselling process would allow a student to be refunded for their ticket while allowing another student to buy it, or stage an equal trade.

It is unfair for students to resell their tickets at a secondary price in order to make a profit. Oakland Zoo tickets are sold for those students who are passionate about Pitt basketball. Reselling tickets at increased prices takes advantage of those who may not be able to buy tickets otherwise.

Allowing students to transfer their basketball tickets to other students would ensure that everyone has fair access to basketball tickets, even after the lottery process has taken place.