The student ticket mess

Cat Tracks contributor Judd Graham was one of many UA students trying to land student basketball tickets in the early hours Monday morning. This is HIS account of what happened when too many students were involved in an unorganized event.

At the time I am writing this I have been awake for 26-straight hours, and the term "extreme frustration" is a meager definition of my current mood. I am the biggest Wildcat Basketball fan that I know, and was more than eager to arrive at McKale Center at 11:30 P.M. in order to assure myself a pair of student tickets for the upcoming season.

When I arrived, there were already a few hundred people lining side of the arena, many in chairs, some in sleeping bags [editor's note--camping out was not going to be allowed], and all excited at the prospect of an opprotunity to buy a half-season worth of student tickets to cheer on the Arizona Wildcats. As the night wore on, and the cold set in, students became increasingly frustrated with the many people who decided to bypass the line, jumping in wherever openings were presented. By 2:00 A.M. the line had crawled from the ticket booths, around the west end of the arena, and then curved further to the far north end of the stadium, and students were chanting hateful "boos" at the people who seemed to be cutting.

By the time that 4:45 A.M. rolled around, there was a buzz in the crowd when, suddenly, the back of the line made a miraculous dash for the front. About 2,000 crazed, exhausted students, all abandoned their campsites, chairs, and sleeping bags to protect spots in line. The rush went to the barricades that the security staff had set up prior to the event; by 5:30 the barricades were tossed out, people were screaming, and many others were passing out from the extreme heat that is created by a few thousand people all crammed body to body, struggling to move inches forward. The latter mentioned sleeping bags and chairs all made their way atop the crowd to the heart of the madness and were recklessly thrown around by the already enraged students.

At 6:00 A.M. it became apparent that the police needed to be involved. Students were being crushed against the wall of the ticket window, were being incited by cameramen, and by students who were throwing food from above the box-office down at the crowd. People were struggling to simply stay on their feet as the corwd was pushed back and forth from the outside. It took great effort to not be pushed down to the ground by the other students who were furiously working at inching closer to the window. I, personally, was crushed so tightly between people that I could not take off my jacket, or sweater for lack of maneuvering room, and felt at times, that I might pass-out, yet I was more than willing to risk unconsiousness for a pair of tickets. The crowd was so condensed that I could not even reach into my pocket to get out my Cat Card when the box offices finally opened around 6:45.

At this time, the students were just expecting the police would ignore madness around the ticket booths, as the cops had sat watching the entire event transpire for hours now, and had in fact told me, "we aren't enforcing a line, if I were you, I'd cut now." However, the police, about 3 hours, and 20 unconscious students too late, came decked out in their riot gear and dispersed the crowd.

The lack of organization was terrible. I, along with thousands of other fans, wasted 8 hours of our lives to come up shortchanged, because of the fact that no one took charge of the event. There were only five security officers and two university police on hand (that I saw) prior to the riot police's tardy "we've come to save the day, and deny you your tickets" blunder. The University needs to change its policy for tickets, because it seems ridiculous to me that the biggest fans of the program can stay up all night and be cheated out of tickets.

Hopefully the University will stand up and do something to fix the problem that occurred, but if they do not, and the biggest fans, including myself, do not get to enter McKale Center and cheer on the #1 team in the country that means so much to them this year, it will truly be a travesty.

[Editor's note: It must be noted that color coded tickets were supposed to be handed out to students in the morning. Each color would be granted a day to buy tickets. By noon the ticket office was selling tickets to students with a brown colored ticket.]

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