No More Waiting in the Cold for Cherished Hoops Tickets

Message Board: Ticket distribution systems for coveted men’s basketball tickets have changed many times, but most have included some long waits in lines at Carmichael Auditorium and the Smith Center. What are your memories of “camping” for tickets?

For student basketball fans, the days of lining up outside the Smith Center on cold winter mornings waiting for tickets are over.

What’s more, many students say they’ll miss them.

Beginning this fall, students will register online for tickets to men’s basketball games and will receive their tickets via e-mail.

The new online distribution system – created by the athletics department and unveiled in June by the student-run Carolina Athletic Association – will significantly reduce the organizational efforts required for the CAA to distribute student tickets by hand.

But Associate Athletics Director Clint Gwaltney ’92, who helped develop the new system, said reduced personnel was not the only reason for the change. “It’s more a sign of the times,” he said. “And we felt that automating would benefit students.”

Previously, student ticket distribution took place on Saturday mornings. Gwaltney said the new online system would give tickets to students who could not attend Saturday distributions because of work or family obligations.

Another goal of the new system is to reduce the number of unclaimed student tickets. The system will use a two-round lottery to assign individual game tickets to students who have registered for them.

Students who have received tickets in the first lottery round will be notified via e-mail. They will be assigned to specific seats in the Smith Center only after confirming that they will use the tickets. Any unclaimed tickets will be distributed in a second lottery to students who have not already received them.

Tickets not claimed after the second round will go on sale to the public.

The change already has generated response from students. Dozens of comments have been posted on The Daily Tar Heel‘s Web site regarding the policy, ranging from the supportive to the unprintably indignant.

Chief among the concerns is that the online system cannot assign tickets to groups of students. Each student registered on the system can receive up to two tickets per game, but currently there is no way to allow more than two students to obtain tickets together.

CAA President Rachel High, who planned to discuss student concerns with the athletics department, said she fears the lack of group seating will change the atmosphere in the Smith Center.

“I think if we can’t sit with more than two people [together], the effect will definitely be noticeable, especially in the risers,” she said. Students feel “more in their comfort zone” when sitting with friends and are more likely to cheer loudly during the game, she added.

Seating in the risers – the tightly packed, standing-only student section on the floor behind one of the baskets – also will be affected. Riser tickets will be numbered, eliminating the need for students to line outside the arena hours before tipoff to claim spots on a first-come, first-served basis.

The online distribution system currently does not allow students to indicate whether they want seats in the risers, but Gwaltney said the athletics department is exploring ways to let students indicate a preference for riser tickets with the new technology. If that is not possible, students with unwanted riser seats can swap seats with friends or use an online forum on the CAA Web site to exchange tickets with other students.

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