Students get fewer tickets to UNC basketball games

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Students crossing their fingers for basketball tickets are vying for fewer seats than last year.

Citing chronically low student attendance, the athletic department has reduced the number of student tickets by 34 percent from last year.

Though rate of attendance has been low for decades, athletic department officials said they decided to reduce the amount of student tickets after particularly poor attendance last year.

The office distributes an average of 2,798 tickets per game this year.

“What boggles our minds is that for the games that are in February, the number of individual students who signed up was 8,600 on average,” said Clint Gwaltney, associate athletic director.

“We then send out the tickets, and the people that decide to come to the game averages 60 percent.”

Gwaltney said there was a 37 percent return on last year’s average allotment of 4,200 tickets per game, adding that poor attendance has become more noticeable with a general admission system rather than assigned seating.

The lost student tickets have been redirected to the general public. Gwaltney said the decision was not financially motivated, and the athletic department has not earned as much money as it expected from those additional ticket sales.

“We made this decision last year before going into our budget and we budgeted for the potential to sell these tickets,” Gwaltney said. “We did not sell as many as we hoped. We were trying to maximize capacity and trying to fill it up.”

Carolina Athletic Association President Brandon Finch said in an e-mail that students have no one to blame but themselves.

“Students can blame the ticket policy, the weather, the long trek to the Smith Center or the team’s less-than-stellar performance at times, but at the end of the day, it’s clear that students aren’t using their tickets, and that’s disturbing,” he said.

Some students expressed frustration, saying they felt too few “winner” e-mails were sent out.

“It seems to me that it’s been more difficult for people to get tickets than it even was two years ago when we had the same (two-ticket) system,” said Stephen Estes, a senior political science major.

But Gwaltney said the number of tickets delivered actually exceeds the number of available student seats because they know a large number of students won’t come.

“It’s gambling,” he said. “We would prefer to send out the correct number of e-mails to tickets.”

But because an average of only about 60 percent of students actually attend the games, the department overbooks the seats.

Excluding the Duke game, “the percentage of winner e-mails that showed up last year, just in ACC games, ranged from a high of 62 percent for Virginia Tech and 60 percent for Georgia Tech to lows of 18 percent for Florida State and 24 percent for Miami,” Gwaltney said.

This year, attendance at ACC games has so far ranged from 78 percent for Virginia Tech to 58 percent for Wake Forest.

“If you’re going to complain about the policy but aren’t going to use the ticket or give it away, then you have no right to complain,” said senior psychology and religious studies major Lauren Breedlove.

With one ticket lottery remaining, some seniors expressed worry that their perceived bad luck will continue with the Duke game.

“If I don’t get a Duke ticket, I’m going to be mad,” Breedlove said.

Gwaltney stressed that the number of tickets available to students in the lottery for the Duke game has not changed and will be more than 5,000.

Next year, CAA President-Elect Caitlin Goforth said she hopes to increase student attendance and increase the number of tickets available.

“I think the students’ dedication this year has shown the ticketing department that we are going to support our basketball team.”

Contact the University Editor at university@dailytarheel.com.

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