With hated rival BYU coming to town in what was arguably the most highly anticipated home game in San Diego State history, there was unparalleled excitement around campus last week. Enthusiastic students started lining up last Wednesday morning to get tickets, a good three days before they were scheduled to be released on Friday.
But the mood turned sour after many students left empty-handed.
With a valid Red ID, students were allowed one free ticket and the opportunity to purchase one additional guest ticket for $10. Associate Athletic Director Steve Schnall said about 1,250 to 1,300 students received tickets, and gave a rough estimate of 700 that did not.
“We understand the frustration when you can’t get a ticket to a game that had so much buildup and so much hype, and we wish we had a bigger arena, but we don’t so there were going to be disappointed students,” Schnall said.
According to psychology senior Jesse Kingdon, line-cutting was rampant.
“With the amount of people that were cutting, it made it nearly impossible for anyone to get a ticket that was less than 400th in line on Wednesday night,” Kingdon said. “No one was really appreciative of (the cutters), everyone was yelling ‘cutters get out of line,’ but no one was listening.”
Kingdon said he got in line around 9 p.m. Wednesday night, and according to an unofficial count (red raffle tickets with numbers on them that were handed out by students), he was about the 650th person in line. Come Friday morning, he didn’t get a ticket.
Schnall said he understands the frustration, but thought the line-cutting claims were exaggerated.
“I think it was certainly festive at the start and disappointing in the end,” Schnall said. “I think the cutting was minimal, not to the degree that it’s been stated probably. But I think when you have that many people that don’t get tickets there’s going to be disappointment and frustration, especially when they’re out there for that long a period of time.”
Psychology senior Eric McDermott was camped out along the side of Viejas Arena, inside the gated area. He said when tickets were released Friday morning, it was chaos trying to get to the front.
“(The ticket line) was about 20 people wide, it was a big mob,” McDermott said. “After a while (security) was like, ‘You guys have to go back,’ or ‘Scoot in farther’ and obviously no one was going to go to the back of the line so everyone just tried to smoosh in farther, and eventually, since no one was budging, they just opened the gates and we slowly bottlenecked in.”
“Some people didn’t get tickets that should have gotten tickets, and some people got tickets that shouldn’t have gotten tickets,” he added.
Kingdon had a similar experience.
“There were people that were way behind us that were basically right with us and we were right with people that were ahead of us,” Kingdon said. “There was no real organization of the line, there were no ropes, there were no guard rails, Elite Security Services did not monitor any of that.”
Schnall said that the Athletic Department learned from the experience and will continue to find new methods to improve ticket distribution in the future.