Student Access Passes: Tickets Leaving Students at a Disadvantage?
Every year for the last three years, students scramble around to get their all-important access pass for sporting events on campus. The big ticket everyone seems to want is the home football games. Many other sporting events don’t seem to have a seating issue, but football does. So, what is the real incentive to buy them anymore?
For starters, the price has been raised from $65 last year to $85 this year. I understand that the University’s Athletic Department continues to grow and thrive each year and money is an important factor in the growth process. The pass is not an issue for sports such as baseball, softball, volleyball and soccer, as it is not required for admission. The pass starts to cause issues with the football – and sometimes men’s basketball – home games.
The Athletic Department made 12,000 passes available to purchase. But wait! Only the first 9,500 students will get into the home football games. Now students will have to camp out in line for hours, maybe even days in the case of the Alabama football game, just to get a seat in the student section. Why not create enough seats for the 12,000 passes, or put an allotment at 9,500 total passes?
Wouldn’t the games be a lot more enjoyable if everyone could just show up an hour and a half before the game, not four or five hours? The atmosphere and experience of the home games is second to none, but having to fight lines and hoping you get into the student section in the lower bowl every game gets old after time. Very small changes could be made to make the student ticket process exponentially more pleasurable.
First off, put a hard cap on the number of tickets at the number of seats available. There is no reason to offer more tickets than there are seats. I know some students buy the pass and don’t go to every game, but set an allotment so there is no possibility of turning a student away.
Also, the voucher system for Little Rock games should be moved to an online system. Instead of having students skip class to get their tickets, make it so they can access the vouchers online to avoid the crowd at the Baum Stadium ticket office.
This year, students will also have to get a voucher for the LSU game in Fayetteville. Doesn’t the access pass include entrance to all home games? Well, almost. If students attend all five home football games, they will get first-serve basis for seating vouchers to the LSU game. So if a student has an emergency throughout the year and is forced to miss a game, that student may be out of luck for the one game of the year he or she really wanted to see.
I know this mainly pertains to seating at football games, because the pass is not necessary for other sports on campus. Regardless of the free admission, baseball never seems to have a seating issue, neither do volleyball, soccer, softball nor any other sport played on University grounds.
I feel that my suggested changes would serve the interest of students better, rather than the money factor the university strives for. I’m not saying the UA only cares about our money, because that is completely inaccurate. The UA really cares about the students; I just feel that student tickets could be handled in a different manner.
Students do have the option of buying single game tickets, but unfortunately the best value deal is the access pass. So the student body will continue to camp out in lines, hope for good seats and spend more and more money each year to enjoy Razorback football games. We will continue to call the Hogs, despite the seating disasters we have to endure.
Zach Wheeler is a staff writer for The Arkansas Traveler. His column appears every Tuesday. Follow the sports section on Twitter @UATravSports.