Ticket prices for MU-KU game cause controversy

Sunday, November 2, 2008 | 8:12 p.m. CST; updated 8:44 p.m. CST, Sunday, November 2, 2008

COLUMBIA — After waiting in line for several hours Saturday to pick up tickets for the MU football team's rivalry game against Kansas on Nov. 29 in Kansas City, some MU students were left feeling cheated.

“It’s a scam. When I bought my ticket online, I automatically assumed that if I bought a $35 ticket, I would get better seats than someone who bought the $10 ticket,” MU senior Shawna Scullen said.

Students received an e-mail from the MU ticket office on Oct. 21 telling them how and when season ticket holders could buy tickets to the MU-KU game.

"All tickets sold are reserve seats and can be purchased at either a $10 or $35 price level," the e-mail said. It did not make any further distinction between the two price levels or what they meant.

"There is no question that we didn't make it clear enough to students in the e-mail that a more expensive ticket didn't guarantee a better seat. It was a mistake on our part," Chad Moller, spokesperson for the MU athletic department, said. "What we intended to do was sell the $10 first and then sell the $35 tickets, which would all be in the upper deck. Unfortunately, we outsourced our sales to the company that handles the tickets, and they inadvertently released them all at one time."

Scullen said she figured buying her ticket online, choosing the pricier option and showing up before the ticket office even opened to pick the pass up would keep her out of the “nosebleed section” at Arrowhead Stadium. It didn’t.

“I went on the basic capitalistic principle that if you pay more, you get more, but I guess I was wrong,” Scullen said. “I’m beyond pissed, and don’t understand how a huge university can’t manage ticket sales.”

Moller said he can see where students are coming from and this process wasn't what the department intended.

"I understand that it's natural that someone would assume that they would get better tickets if they paid more, but unfortunately the execution of the plan didn't go as well as it should have," Moller said.

According to Scullen, the price of the tickets didn’t determine seating. The early birds, some of whom, Scullen said, showed up as early as 6:30 a.m., got the best seats, regardless of how much they paid.

Originally, Moller said, the $35 tickets were supposed to be for seats in the upper level, but on Saturday, the ticket office decided to assign seats on a first-come-first-served basis to relieve confusion during the ticket distribution process. The initial process was well intended, Moller said, but it wasn't feasible.

The difference in prices stems from how the department got the tickets. Moller said MU was initially given 3,000 tickets for students at $10 a piece. In order to make more tickets available to students, 1,000 more wholesale tickets were pulled from MU’s overall allotment, which included donor and general public tickets.  Those tickets weren't available at the lower $10 price; students instead would have to pay $35 for those tickets, he said.

"We didn’t have to make 1,000 more seats available to students," Moller said. "We were trying to do something good for the students because the only other alternative would have been to only designate 3,000 tickets to students."

Moller said students who are unhappy with their tickets can return them for a full refund by going to the MU ticket office located in Mizzou Arena.

Although the athletic department takes responsibility for the mix up, Scullen still was left with a sour taste in her mouth.

"This setup was poorly done," Scullen said. "It was incredibly unfair that the diehards like myself, who tried to get the best seats we could, found out that people who paid less got better seats."

Though Scullen is frustrated, others like MU junior Leeann Gipple found their frugal ways paid off.

"The university is overpriced as it is, and for something this important, if people are willing to pay more for better seats, they should get more for their money and not be cheated," Gipple said. "But I’m rocking the $10 ticket. Way to be cheap."

It turns out Scullen will be sitting in section 312 while Gipple, who paid $25 less than Scullen, will be watching the game just two sections over in section 310. Both sections are at the top of the stadium.

Students such as MU freshman Jill Mahler don’t understand how someone who paid $35 could be given what they consider worse seats than someone who paid less.

"It’s like two pairs of shoes," Mahler said. "Why would you spend more money on the same pair of shoes? It just doesn’t make sense to pay more and get less."

Confusing price differences weren’t the only factor causing headaches for fans. Lines stretched for hours on Saturday, leading some students to sit on the ground and do homework to kill time.

"This was the worst experience ever. I’ve been here for four hours and I still haven’t got my ticket," MU junior Kara Booker said. "It was ridiculous and readily ill-prepared. If it’s going to be like this next year, I’m not going to do it."

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Amber Hanneken November 2, 2008 | 10:15 p.m.

What a huge mess! Completely ridiculous.

It's also crap that they only let season ticket holders know when the tickets went on sale. They should have given all students a fair chance to come early and buy MU-kU tickets! Not all of us can afford season tickets, but I would haved liked to have gone to the kU game this year.

(Report Comment)
Steve Anderson November 3, 2008 | 9:00 a.m.

Regarding the $35.00 and $10.00 seats being equal. This is just the first case of "spreading the wealth around." It's the Obama way!

(Report Comment)
John Uehling November 3, 2008 | 10:54 a.m.

I believe it is more than fair that the students who purchased the Season Pass for football were the ones who were notified first about kU tickets. They're the ones who made the investment in the season from the beginning, and they're the ones who should be rewarded with the first opportunity to purchase tickets to the biggest game of the year.

(Report Comment)
Robert Stinnett November 3, 2008 | 11:08 a.m.

Well maybe if the University didn't outsource everything. I don't understand that -- how hard is it to run ticket sales? They did it for years and years. I guess some slick profiteer came and gave them a fancy powerpoint show about how it would make everything so much better.

Maybe they can outsource the entire football program.

(Report Comment)
B Harris November 3, 2008 | 12:40 p.m.

I agree the whole ticket process has been terrible this year! I am a graduate student and have purchased student tickets since I was an undergrad at Mizzou, and this year has by far been the worst experience ever. Not only has the disorganization been astonishing from the handing out "line tickets" only to disperse the "line" and then having no process to notify those waiting when their number is being called, to having only a few staff on hand, to charging more than 3 times for the same tickets, to the more than 4 hour wait, someone in the athletic ticket sales department needs to wake up! It's great to see our student athletes working so hard to be successful, but others need to follow their lead. The whole experience has really cast a negative light on the University. I know someone within the MU system could figure out a way to distribute tickets quicker and more efficiently, without all of the frustration!

(Report Comment)
eva grainy November 22, 2010 | 10:08 a.m.

As long as the tickets have already been sold online, I don`t see any better solution than to check the client database and send each of them a free ticket to the next game, as a way of straightening thins up. Errors occur. Half of an error is repaired with a right attitude.
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(Report Comment)

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