Perhaps Barack Obama didn’t have the UW football ticketing system in his platform for change, but at this point, let’s just pretend he did.
One year ago at this time, a Badger Herald sports editor wrote a column about the UW athletic department’s failure with the football ticketing policy, and rightfully so. After changing the process to a lottery system, students had no way to ensure themselves of getting tickets.
Looks like Mr. Obama was right.
After only one year of complaints and evaluation, the athletic department broke off its lottery attempt and implemented a first come, first served system for football tickets. Any complaints this time? Naturally.
The hype of season tickets going on sale at 8:30 a.m. on June 22 led to thousands of Badger fans eagerly awaiting their chance to purchase their vouchers for football games.
Right off the bat, there were problems. UWBadgers.com couldn’t handle the traffic, and hundreds, maybe thousands of people were barred from getting on to the website to purchase tickets. Little explanation was offered from the athletic office during the server overload, and tickets sold out in about 2 1/2 hours.
Sounds like a big problem.
Now I’m not usually one to praise the athletic department for an unnecessary change or an idea that completely backfires. This time though, I don’t think that’s the case at all. Maybe I’m just an optimist, but look back at last year’s failure of a lottery and it’s pretty evident this year’s method was far superior.
Perhaps the biggest problem with the football ticketing policy last year was its inability to gauge student devotion to Badger athletics. Casual fans who would normally sell half of their games were looked at the same as diehards who eat and sleep Badger football.
Along the same lines, and maybe even more troublesome was the fact that those same diehards had no way of proving their allegiance to the UW football team.
This year though, the athletic department made a leap few thought it would make. By making the ticketing policy a first come, first served system so early in the morning, it effectively filtered out a huge portion of those who entered the lottery simply for a chance to sell their tickets.
Obviously, many of those students purchased tickets this year, but it had to have been a lower number than last year, when entering the lottery was as easy as beating the Indiana football team. Winning the tickets, however, was a different story.
Clearly, more improvements need to be made. Leaving eager students to a screen that says “Server too busy” or to a meaningless countdown page is not the way to handle the massive traffic the athletic department should have expected. But already those changes are being implemented.
The men’s basketball ticketing policy, which was based on a weighted lottery system, was changed this year to the same first come, first served policy as the football one. But that’s not all — the UW Athletic Department also adopted the voucher policy for basketball games. While upperclassmen like myself might think we deserve the better seats for any given basketball game, that really shouldn’t be the case. Seniority doesn’t measure a fan’s allegiance to the Badgers, and it certainly shouldn’t guarantee the best seats for every home game.
The Athletic Department also decided to ditch its full season ticket policy for basketball games, instead giving students the option between two different sets of games, both of which offer exciting matchups for half of the Badgers’ home games.
So in only one year, we’ve seen quite a change. Obviously, the best-case scenario would be giving every student the opportunity to attend a football game at Camp Randall or allow more students to see the Badgers play at the Kohl Center.
Alumni still donate millions to the teams we support, and it doesn’t look like Barry Alvarez is ready to take away their 50-yard line seats anytime soon. Maybe increasing the size of the student section is a possibility, and perhaps that is the athletic department’s next step in its overhaul of the ticketing systems.
Until then, I’m usually more than obliged to complain about its shortcomings, but right now, I can happily say the athletic department did something right.
Jonah Braun is a junior majoring in journalism and Hebrew and Semitic studies. Dislike the new ticketing policy? Have more complaints for the UW athletic department? He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.