Early returns on ticket plan for 'true fans' disappointing

By Craig Sanders

Arizona Daily Wildcat

For years, disillusioned fans of the Arizona men's basketball team tried in vain to get tickets.

This season, the Athletic Department might have trouble giving them away.

Arizona's streak of eight consecutive sellout seasons was broken against Long Beach State Wednesday when nearly 500 student seats went unsold.

A new policy initiated this season reserves about 550 tickets for students to purchase on the day of a basketball game. The policy has been a bust so far, prompting Associate Athletic Director Butch Henry and Associated Students President Ben Driggs to review this season's plan.

"The policy change was designed to allow true fans an opportunity to attend the games by purchasing tickets the day of the game," Henry said. "It is very discouraging to see the lack of ticket sales. We've spent a lot of money advertising and had little response. We will give it some more time, but if sales don't increase, ASUA's president (Driggs) and I may be looking at alternative plans."

The current plan, recommended earlier this year to the Athletic Department by ASUA, asked that about 20 percent of tickets from Arizona's student ticket allotment be reserved for purchase the day of a game. ASUA conducted a survey of 100 students before the season, and Driggs said the plan seemed overwhelmingly popular.

Only 24 student and 11 guest tickets out of the allotted 550 were sold for the season opener against Long Beach State, though. In Arizona's preseason game against the Mexico National Team, only 16 of those tickets were sold. An estimated $2,000 in ticket sales was lost for each game.

"This was a good faith effort to help students who don't usually have a chance to attend games to do so," Driggs said. "I really think it is a matter of getting the word out. If students aren't interested, then we'll have to look at some other way to do it."

Driggs said that "other way" could be the old lottery system of last year.

Henry said he believed the lack of sales may be due to the public's misunderstanding of the policies. Yet, that still does not explain why the sale of season tickets was slow as well. Many people on the original waiting list did not purchase tickets, and many alternates were not interested either. Tickets were eventually sold to anyone who came to the ticket office and inquired. What remained of those tickets was broken up into single game allotments.

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