Prior to the beginning of the 2019-20 Men’s Basketball season, the Gonzaga Athletic Department Ticket Office overtook jurisdiction of ticket distributions from the Kennel Club Board.

Despite the change in oversight, very few modifications were made to made to the prior distribution procedures implemented by the the Kennel Club.

The ticket office has prompted students to enter the McCarthey Athletic Center through the Kennel Club doors between 5:00 and 7:00 p.m. on a given distribution date, forming a line in the concourse leading to the student ID activation table. Furthermore, the ticket office has continued the system of giving numbers to students who choose to line up outside the Kennel Club doors before 5:00 p.m., helping to ensure their place in line once the distribution period begins.

No official statement was made by either party regarding what prompted the athletics department to seize authority ticket distributions from the Kennel Club. When approached, Athletics Department Ticket Manager Kelsey Crawford declined to speak on the matter.

Although the ticket office has instituted little to no adjustments to the distribution process, they have already garnered negative feedback from the student body regarding their management of ticket distributions. This criticism stems largely from their handling of student ID activation for the game against North Carolina on December 18. 

The ticket office chose to hold the ticket distribution for the highly-anticipated matchup against the Tar Heels immediately following Gonzaga’s Nov. 1 exhibition game versus Lewis-Clark State College. In an effort to deter students from leaving early, those students who stayed in the student section for the entire game were set to have initial access to tickets for the North Carolina game.

I’ll give credit where credit is due. On paper, this was a rational idea to help keep the stands packed in what was inevitably going to be a blow-out game. That being said, the ticket office grossly underestimated how anxious a post-game ticket distribution with few instructions would make a hoard of eager students.

As soon as the final buzzer sounded in Gonzaga’s 116-61 win over Lewis-Clark State, commotion ensued as hundreds of restless students clambered to be the first to get their ticket for the North Carolina game. There was just one problem, nobody seemed to know exactly where they were supposed to go.

Ultimately, herd mentality took over as students began to follow those ahead of them who looked as though they knew what they were doing. Sure enough, bedlam resulted when representatives from the ticket office tried to direct isolated pockets of students from the student section to the activation table. 

Numerous disgruntled groups of students emerged, feeling cheated because they were under impression that they had been waiting in “the right line” before being relocated. To say the scene was chaotic would be an understatement.

To be fair, there is no perfect method to allocate a commodity as sought-after as Gonzaga basketball tickets. The ticket office can make any adjustments to the distribution process they deem necessary. There will always be kids who feel frustrated at how obscenely difficult it is to get their ticket, kids who feel snubbed when they don’t even get a ticket. When it comes to high-profile games, it simply comes down to the age-old dilemma of supply and demand.

The chaos associated with high-profile games is exactly why some students, myself included, prefer the fan experience of Gonzaga’s more low-key games. 

Maybe I’m delusional, but I’m far more compelled to go to a game when I can stop by the ticket office on Monday morning to get my ID activated, rather than a game where I have to wait outside the McCarthey Center all-day on Sunday in seemingly sub-freezing temperatures just to get a ticket.

And lets not forget, distribution is only one half of the mayhem. You can chalk it up to my aforementioned diagnosis, but I’d much rather go to a game when I can show up a half-hour before tip-off knowing full and well that there will be somewhere to sit in the back few rows, as opposed to a game where I have to sleep in a tent just to ensure I’ll have somewhere to sit with a ticket I already gave up my entire Sunday waiting for.

That being said, when you manage to ruin the allure of these low-key games by blatantly slighting the students, that’s when you completely lose my respect. The ticket office did just that prior to Gonzaga’s Nov. 23 game against CSU Bakersfield when they decided to sell tickets comprised of a third of the student section.

With no indication from the ticket office that seating had been notably condensed, students pored into the McCarthey Center an hour before the 5:00 p.m. tip-off, appalled to find out that they somehow had nowhere to sit after activating their IDs.

I can only speak for myself, but this discourteous action by the ticket office significantly deterred my interest in utilizing student ticket activation to attend men’s basketball games in the future. From the moment I arrived in the McCarthey Center, my fan experience was a frustrating, haphazard mess.

I’m aware that men’s basketball games are the most sought after ticket in all of Spokane. I understand why the ticket office wants to do everything they possibly can to make Gonzaga games accessible to the public. Overtly disregarding your student body — the same “best student section in the country” that you constantly promote — is the wrong way to do it, plain and simple.

This kind of decision making is downright egregious and should not be condoned. One thing is for certain, the irrationality of the ticket office has not gone unnoticed. How this disapproval will be expressed by the student body remains to be seen.

Chad Strazzarra is a contributor. 

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