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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Point/counterpoint: Basketball tickets

    Better ways to allocate tickets than infighting

    Stories of students camped out overnight to get good seats at basketball games show that UA students really care about our team. But they also scream of an unnecessary waste of time.

    For every student who misses class to wait seven hours to sit in the lower level, there is another student stuck at the top. Presumably, that’s a good thing because the student in the lower level “”cares”” more about UA basketball and so deserves to be closer. But let’s take a closer look.

    The basketball ticket dilemma, which comes up in the Associated Students of the University of Arizona and in the Arizona Daily Wildcat every year, is a textbook example of what happens when goods are underpriced, resulting in a shortage. There are two different shortages in play.

    The first is a shortage of tickets. This year season tickets cost $72. At that price, there are many more students who want to buy tickets than there are tickets available, so we have to use a lottery to decide who has the right to buy them. Based on how much students this year received for their tickets on eBay, the actual value of those tickets was about $400 for the season. That means the lottery winners effectively received a gift of $328.

    The other shortage is that of good seats. The difference between a front-row seat and a nosebleed seat is huge. At present, we have general admission, which means that the students who wait longer get better seats.

    This basically means students are in an auction with themselves for seats – except instead of bidding money, they’re bidding time. Is this really that different from eBay?

    Students seem reluctant to raise the price of tickets to a level that will reduce this shortage. They say that only the rich will be able to get tickets and that it will strip the passion out of the equation.

    But that’s a mistake: If a student waits five hours in line per game, and he could instead be working for $6 an hour, that means that his tickets are really an extra $30 per game, or $360 extra for the season. That actually makes the tickets more expensive than $400.

    And it’s probably likely that because fewer rich students work, there are a disproportionate number of rich students who can afford to wait in line.

    What about using something other than time to determine who gets tickets? For instance, if we raise the price of season tickets to $400, tickets would still sell out, but there would be an additional $1 million of revenue.

    That could, for example, be used to reduce tuition by $25 per year. Or it could be used to double funding for ASUA.

    Alternatively, we could keep track of which students go to other UA sports, which students get above a 2.0 grade point average or which students don’t get parking tickets and give them good seats.

    Any way you cut it, isn’t that better than sleeping on concrete?

    Ryan Johnson is an economics and international studies senior. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.



    Students who demonstrate dedication deserve seats

    With the final home game of the season now past, men’s basketball fans have begun to turn their attention to next season, and the discussion of how basketball tickets should be distributed is as much a hot-button issue as ever.

    To the credit of those involved, this season went a long way toward establishing a system that does exactly what it should: reward the most deserving fans with tickets and the best seats.

    While some say that any ticket distribution system should be considered from the standpoint of business strategy, such an attitude ignores the powerful element that makes college basketball the very special game that it is.

    No amount of revenue can compensate for the dedication of several thousand students at an NCAA game who have come to cheer their hearts out for their team, especially if they have spent several hours waiting outside just to get in and get good seats.

    Coach Lute Olson understands this fact, and he took time out of his busy schedule to visit with the students who lined up early for Saturday’s game and to bring them pizza as a sign of his appreciation.

    Clearly, the Hall of Famer knows the value of an energetic student section.

    In order to make next year’s men’s basketball season even better with revved-up student fans for every game, Arizona Athletics and the Zona Zoo should develop a system that rewards students who are willing to go the extra mile for their team.

    To begin with, the decision to sell only one ticket per person should stay. Although the setup has drawn criticism, returning to the system of previous years, in which a student can buy two tickets, would effectively halve the number of students who can buy tickets initially.

    To help ensure that nearly all seats are filled at every game, tickets should be sold in smaller, two-game packages. Such a policy would require less commitment, and students would be less inclined to purchase tickets if they knew they could not attend one of the games.

    Finally, assuming that it is technologically possible, Arizona Athletics should sell student tickets online on a first-come, first-served basis until they run out, beginning at about 5 a.m. two days before the game.

    Devoted fans will unquestionably wake up at 5 in the morning several times in a season, and it’s likely that some tickets will still be left over for other fans.

    All of this should ensure that the most dedicated fans are able to attend every game and have the powerful effect that college basketball student sections are known for – which should be the ultimate goal of any ticket distribution system.

    Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski said it best, “”At Duke, students don’t just go to the game – they are part of the game.””

    Let’s hope the new system makes the same thing true in McKale Center next season.

    Michael Huston is a sophomore who admires those with an exceptional dedication to the Arizona basketball team. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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