The University of Wisconsin admitted to mishandling the seating of the student section at last Saturday’s football game against Marshall, causing several students to miss part of the first quarter.
After the student section of Camp Randall Stadium was still not filled by the start of the second quarter of the game, many angry students blamed the UW Athletic Department, saying security prevented them from getting to their seats on time.
Others blamed the students for not getting to the game on time, choosing to party longer before going to the game.
Vince Sweeney, UW senior associate athletic director, said both issues are a problem, acknowledging opening only one portal at a time caused too much congestion.
According to Sweeney, UW tried to come up with a strategy to make sure all rows in the sections were filled completely so no ticket holders had to be turned away. Previously, students had been taking up too much space, not allowing for the maximum number of students to fill each row.
“In trying to solve one problem, we created a different one,” Sweeney said. “We’re not trying to disregard the students or treat them as second-class citizens.”
UW Police Department Lt. Bill Larson said the problem with students taking up too much space began at the last home game of last season.
After the bleachers collapsed in 1993, injuring several spectators, a commission was set up to investigate the cause of the accident, Larson said. As a result, “we have to show [students] the door if they can’t get a seat.”
Sweeney said about 5,000 student tickets had been scanned into the stadium by 11 a.m. — less than half of the amount of people it takes to fill the student section, which contains about 13,600 seats.
Of those students at the game on time, Sweeney said, about 500 were delayed by the new policy — a number Sweeney said is still unacceptable. As the late students arrived, the traffic jam only got worse.
While there is no set strategy for the Badgers’ next home game against Ohio State Oct. 4, Sweeney said the department is not burying its head in the sand and would like any help it can get to find the best solution to the problem.
The lack of students arriving at games on time has angered many Badgers fans, especially those who did not receive tickets through the lottery system UW initiated for the first time this season.
UW junior Chelsea Weinfurtner said she transferred as a sophomore because of her love of football and thinks students have a responsibility to arrive on time for the games.
She added students should go to the games to have fun with their friends, but they also owe it to the team to provide support, saying if a student has a ticket “you should have them for the right reason.”
“It’s kind of embarrassing if you’re on ESPN, and you don’t have any student support,” she said.
According to Sweeney, the argument that students only arrive late to 11 a.m. games because of the early start time is inaccurate. He added the records show there has been little difference between the number of students arriving on time for early games and the number that arrive on time for afternoon or evening start times.
“We have to work together,” Sweeney said. “We need students there to help us out when the game starts.”