Football games against ACC rivals N.C. State and Virginia Tech will provide a trial run for UNC's Web-based student-ticket system, campus officials said this week.
The new system, announced this summer, is primarily meant as a method for distributing tickets to men's basketball games. But UNC wants to give it a test run to work out any kinks, said Clint Gwaltney, director of ticket operations.
Students will go to a Web site that allows them to sign up to receive tickets. Later, they'll get an e-mail with a link to a Web site that allows them to print off the tickets - which students must provide at the Kenan Stadium gate along with their One Card.
The football tickets, unlike those for basketball games, will be for general admission seating. Otherwise, the trials will be run in a "similar fashion" to the basketball distributions in the fall, Gwaltney said.
In an interview Monday, Gwaltney also addressed many of the concerns students have raised about the new ticket policy. Rachel High, president of the student-run Carolina Athletic Association, said this week that she's received "mostly negative" feedback about the change since the plans were made public.
"It's more or less to benefit the students," Gwaltney said, arguing that the old system of Saturday-morning distributions in front of the Smith Center didn't provide all students with an equal opportunity to get tickets.
While the requirement that students be on South Campus by 7 a.m. naturally attracted die-hard Carolina fans to distributions, he said, it also meant that graduate students who don't live near Chapel Hill, as well as students who had to work on Saturday morning, were unable to get tickets.
If anything, Gwaltney said, the new system will help more people get tickets without affecting the fans who already showed up for distribution on a regular basis.
That's because it eliminates the Ceiling Fan program, which allowed 500 students to get tickets to every game. It also erases the need for the CAA's ticket distribution committee, which received close to 100 tickets for every game.
Those 600 tickets will be made available to all students for each game.
"Every student who pays the athletic fee has the right to go to the games," Gwaltney said.
He also said the idea of an online ticket system was first considered about two years ago. That's around the same time the University entered into an agreement with Paciolan Inc., an Irvine, Calif.-based company, to sell merchandise and tickets on tarheelblue.com, the athletic department's official Web site.
Paciolan also is running the student-ticket program, Gwaltney said, and will get 50 cents for every ticket students print.
"There's definitely a cost involved," he said.
Another cost: The company's software prevents a change to one of the most unpopular parts of the new plan, its inability to give students group seating in the Smith Center.
Students still will be able to get as many as two tickets to every game, but there is no way to ensure that groups can sit together.
"It is an unfortunate casualty," Gwaltney said, "but it's a product of the software."
High, the CAA president, said she's received many complaints about the change.
"People talk about how they've gone in groups all these years in the past, and they really think it's not going to be fun to just sit with one person," she said.
She says she expects to continue to meet with Gwaltney about the new program.
"Students have really made their complaints meaningful and specified what parts (of the policy) they don't like and why," she said. "That's exactly what I want and exactly what I need."
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