Low student turnout in Worcester

WORCESTER, Mass. — The men’s hockey team earned its first NCAA Tournament win since 1952 when the Bulldogs upset No. 4 North Dakota on Saturday in front of a raucous crowd at the DCU Center in Worcester, Mass. But only about 60 students purchased tickets to attend and witness the historic victory.

With Yale headed to tournament play, the Department of Athletics, President’s Office and Dean’s Office joined together to subsidize all-session tickets for Yale students. All-session tickets, which covered the Regional’s three games, originally sold for $85 but were offered to students at a reduced cost of $35. Bus transportation to Worcester, Mass., was provided to ticketholders free of charge.

Director of Yale Athletics Ticket Operations Jeremy Makins said Yale was prepared to accommodate any demand for tickets. When the Bulldogs advanced to the NCAA tournament in Bridgeport in 2009, about 200 all-session tickets were available to students for $25 each, and Makins said the demand amounted to roughly 450 tickets. But unexpectedly sales this year fell flat.

The reasons, Malkins said, could include the travel distance — an approximately two-hour bus ride in each direction — and the $35 ticket price. But the biggest factor, both Makins and Associate Athletic Director Steve Conn said, was the competition falling the first weekend back from spring break.

“I honestly think that students coming off a two-week break spend a lot of their social reserve,” Conn said. “Tickets for the general fan are way out of whack here, and we were offering a great discount.”

Each participating team’s school had 400 tickets available for purchase this year, Makins said. Schools had one day to return any unsold tickets.

Conn said the Athletics Department had hoped that one-half to three-quarters of the normal student section at Ingalls Rink — some 700 people — would take advantage of the special ticket offer.

The Athletics Department advertised the deal on Facebook, the Athletics Web site, through e-mails to last year’s purchasers and in the News. But Makins said the Athletics Department lacked the means to send a mass e-mail to the entire Yale student body.

Tim Handlon ’10, a linebacker on the football team, said word about the men’s hockey game spread particularly quickly within the student-athlete community. While Handlon got his tickets from a player on the hockey team, he said he and most of his friends were aware of the subsidized offer.

“We’re athletes so we follow this kind of stuff,” Handlon said.

Men’s soccer forward Kevin Pope ’10 purchased his ticket through Yale and said the $35 price tag was generous, with more than half of the cost subsidized. For Pope, the bigger problem was transportation.

“The transportation was just awful,” said Pope, who drove with Handlon to the Sunday game against Boston College after learning the bus — advertised in a handout by the Athletics Department as leaving at 3 p.m. — had departed around 2:30 p.m. instead.

“We walked over at 2:45 p.m. and there was no one there,” Pope said.

The East Regional of the NCAA Tournament will return to Bridgeport’s Arena at Harbor Yard in 2011.

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