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Commentary: Pre-game tickets tough to come by

Christopher Wuensch
Sports Writer
By Christopher Wuensch
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, September 4, 2003

Not all UA students were cheering as sophomore Nic Costa was driving the Wildcats to two consecutive 80-yard drives and multiple touchdowns last Saturday in Arizona's 42-7 victory over Texas-El Paso.

Some 80 students, myself included, were anxiously standing in line and the humidity outside of the McKale ticket windows, waiting for tickets and sweating it out literally.

Like many other students, I arrived in the line after ping-ponging between Arizona Stadium and the McKale ticket window after finding that students could no longer buy tickets at the stadium.

I arrived at my seat mid-way up the student section on the five-yard line just in time to witness young Ryan O'Hara heave the first scoring toss of his career: a 79-yard strike to Lance Relford. As the pandemonium settled down and the keys stopped jingling after the ensuing kickoff, I began to ponder: "Why am I getting into the stadium with 1:03 gone from the clock in the second quarter?"

My conclusion: that darn Zona Zoo Pass. The pass and its army of blue-shirt-wearing members instantly became my mortal enemy.

For the past five months, we've been hearing about the benefits of the Zona Zoo Sports Pass. The credit card-sized pass, designed to fit snugly next to your CatCard in your wallet, grants you access to all sporting events around campus. These games include football, baseball, women's basketball, volleyball and softball, and automatically enter the student into a drawing for coveted men's basketball season tickets.

With the exception of football and basketball, these sports used to be free to attend for students.

No more flashing my CatCard on a sunny spring afternoon to take in a game at Sancet Field. No more breezing by in awe through the UA sports Wall of Fame underneath McKale Center, gazing at past Wildcat legends such as Ron Hassey, Craig Lefferts and Jim Furyk en route to a free volleyball game.

Now on an honest student wage, this not-so-honest senior in his final year has to find other UA sports to take in for free.

How about track and field, led by world-class head coach Fred Harvey? Tennis is still free. I can still cruise over to the Robson Tennis Center on any given Saturday and watch Maja Mlakar or Whi Kim ace their way through Pac-10 competition.

Or I could break down and buy the $35 pass. After all, buying student seats for football on an individual basis alone will run me $49. I better start writing more if that's my option.

It was time to do some research, and more importantly, some math (even though math is the reason I got into journalism in the first place).

The breakdown: Six formerly free varsity sports are now $35 for approximately 110 games. That comes down to roughly 32 cents a game. At the risk of sounding like former Pittsburgh Steeler's quarterback and current long-distance pitchman Terry Bradshaw, 32 cents can't buy much these days.

Or can it?

Think of what I could buy with the 32 cents I save. I could get 21 minutes in a parking meter around campus. I could do one cycle of laundry and still get change back. I could get a pound of ripe bananas at Safeway. I could get 32 drafts at the Bum Steer on penny-pint night.

It won't get me a stamp anymore, however. They're now 37 cents.

Maybe I shouldn't be so cheap. After all, according to McKale Ticket Marketing Corporate Sales Representative Theresa Nassif, Zona Zoo pass purchases have already surpassed last year's student season ticket sales. McKale ticket officials are estimating that students have bought over 5,000 of the flashy passes.

It was also reported that the student section during Saturday's game against the Miners of UTEP was the most densely populated the section has been in over a decade. Workers did work through the second quarter selling tickets at McKale to those stubborn enough not to have previously bought the Zona Zoo pass, like me.

At least the $35 doesn't go to line the pockets of Pete Likins. Instead, the fee is dispersed throughout the 19 varsity sports Arizona has to offer. So in theory, if I bought this pass, teams such as the Gymcats, golf, cross country and women's soccer will benefit from my purchase as well.

So today, as Arizona football preps itself for its second home game against Louisiana State tomorrow, what did I do? I bought myself a Zona Zoo pass. I even had enough left over to buy myself a copy of today's Wildcat.

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