The administration’s inability to successfully update and reinforce their student ticket procedures ahead of “Hurricane Deion” has resulted in disaster, leaving many football-watching-hopefuls broke and discontent. While the unprecedented success of Deion Sanders and his football program has had many positive implications for the student body, semi-affordable access to games is undoubtedly not one of them.
What Coach Sanders and the Buffs have been able to accomplish in the last two weeks can best be classified as pre-season delusions turned into reality. Before the season’s start, phrases like “TCU is light work” and “We’re gonna be a top-20 team by week two!” were utterances of only the most drunk fraternity brothers, out-of-touch alumni and Coach Prime himself. Two weeks later, Prime and his entourage have exceeded most reasonable expectations, beating last year’s runner-ups, setting the single-game school record for passing yards and establishing themselves as the 18th-best team in the country earlier in the month.
Coach Prime’s exuberance, paired with his early dominance, has resulted in nothing short of hysteria. Experts estimate that the Buffs’ opener against TCU generated nearly 17 million dollars for Boulder’s economy, and the game’s 7.2 million viewership count placed it as Fox’s fourth-most streamed college football event of all time.
Unfortunately, as the team’s performance and publicity soar to new heights, the administration’s treatment of student attendance remains largely unchanged, leading to a myriad of problems for many tuition-paying fans.
With great demand comes great cost
If I had a dollar for every time someone asked if I was going to the Nebraska game last week, I still could not have bought a ticket, which were going for a minimum of four hundred dollars a week out from kick-off. I would have gotten close, though, which highlights the crux of the matter: student interest in CU Boulder football is at a historic high, while the student ticket process is the same as last year’s one-win team, which struggled to consistently reach 60% attendance.
As of right now, Buffs wishing to watch their team play live and in the flesh have two options: cough up hundreds of dollars for the worst seats in the stadium or possess the esteemed CU Boulder Sports Pass, which, for $185, gives students the chance to “claim” tickets to men’s football and basketball games. However, there are a couple of problems with this system or at least the way CU Boulder runs it.
Football-watching fate is determined months in advance
There were two purchase windows for the sports pass: one for returning students on July 11 and one for incoming freshmen on Aug. 15. Both sports pass drops sold out in under two minutes, with myself and thousands of other Wi-Fi-inferior fans left staring at a white screen as we realized all hopes of seeing our football team play were lost.
Pre-existing student fans aside, this format of releasing the sports passes also punishes other demographics. Those who only became interested in college football after their arrival on campus have no chance of seeing a game, as is the case for international students who didn’t wake up at 4 a.m. to purchase a sports pass. Even the casual fan, who might have liked to see just one game before graduating, is forced to suffer for their blissful ignorance on the morning of July 11.
The $185 lottery ticket
In a tactical move, CU Boulder sold nearly a thousand more sports passes than there are seats in Folsom Field’s student section. In past years, overselling worked fine; the student section wouldn’t normally sell out, the university made some extra money, more students were able to get passes and everyone with a pass was able to attend whichever game they wanted to.
Obviously, this year is not the same as last. The result of this Coach Prime and Travis Hunter-induced fervor is that students who spent hard-earned money and woke up at ungodly hours to obtain their sports passes are still unable to get tickets because they didn’t “claim” them fast enough. With twelve thousand people vying for eleven thousand spots each week, the sports pass has been reduced to a glorified lottery ticket, with one in every twelve sports pass holders ending up with the rest of the common folk, watching the game being AirPlayed at three frames per second in the common room of Hallet Hall.
Of course, with five home games, a sports pass holder would have to be pretty unlucky not to get tickets to at least two or three of them — but that isn’t the point. The point is, twelve thousand passionate fans shelled out a sizable sum of money preseason to watch the Buffs play football, week-in-and-week-out. One can’t help but feel for those thousand people who paid money to miss the tickets for the slaughter of CSU or the marquee matchup against USC.
It would be unfair to say that Colorado Football has been completely useless in this situation. CU Boulder spokesperson Steve Hurlbert said that solutions already in place included expanding the students section by 1,500 seats prior to the season — which, though helpful, does not address all the issues — and distributing 500 extra tickets returned by the visiting team section in this weekend’s game against CSU.
“We’d love nothing more than to provide a ticket to every single person who wants to see a game at Folsom Field, but unfortunately, we’re simply limited in the amount of seats we have available,” Hurlbert said.
While a good start, these developments do not nearly satisfy the number of students that CU Boulder could realistically satisfy. I am not advocating that all CU Boulder students who want to see a football game this season should be able to; that is not plausible. I merely believe they deserve some semblance of a chance to see one. With the age and capacity of Folsom Field, as well as the high demand from alumni and non-student fans of the team, it is unrealistic to think that CU Boulder students are the only stakeholders in this situation. But the current situation is that there are disinterested financial opportunists who are buying tickets en masse for the sole purpose of reselling them at staggering markup costs, resulting in hundreds of desperate students spending ungodly amounts to see their team play.
With this in mind, it should not be an unreasonable ask of the university to either create a student discount on tickets or to reserve one or two thousand more seats for students, making these spots available on a weekly basis at a discounted price to give a chance to any of the 20,000 students without a sports pass wishing to see a game. The stadium has a capacity of over 50,000. Even with my proposed expansion, there would be over 35,000 seats left for the rest of the fan demographics. While this would mean one or two thousand fewer seats for alumni, donors and non-student fans, I see no issue with this.
Students are a nearly $900 million source of yearly revenue for the school, and with almost $2 million of student tuition going toward the athletic department each year, this should be a no-brainer for administration. Give students a chance to watch their peers make history.
Contact staff writer Jakob Gorham at Jakob.Gorham@colorado.edu.