Steven Morales ’13 has been to almost every men’s hockey game at Yale over the past four years and has traveled to each of the Elis’ NCAA tournament games east of Ohio during his time at Yale. This week, he will make the journey to Pittsburgh to support the Blue and White as they take on UMass-Lowell, but when he gets there he may find himself part of one of the smallest student sections at the Frozen Four.
While other schools with teams going to Pittsburgh have heavily subsidized student tickets, travel and lodging, Yale has offered only last-minute price reductions and travel options for students looking to support the Bulldogs this week.
Student tickets went on sale at the Yale Ticket Office on Wednesday at the NCAA-listed price of $200. On Friday afternoon, less than 24 hours before the deadline to purchase tickets, the Yale Ticket Office reduced the price of tickets to $100 in response to low student demand. On Tuesday night, the Yale College Council announced a plan to offer students a package including single-game tickets, bus transportation and a meal for $50 per game. Fifty tickets will be available for each game, and the package will be subsidized by the Council of Masters and the Yale College Dean’s Office in addition to the YCC.
“I think the initial price of the ticket was really too high,” Athletics Director Tom Beckett said prior to the YCC announcement. “We probably misread the interest of the fans, and the price of going was just too expensive. So we subsidized the ticket by half, and that still was too difficult because the transportation was still too difficult.”
The late YCC package aims to remedy the problem of finding transportation, but leaves students little time to plan with the Thursday game less than two days away. And students like Morales who have already made plans may be stuck with the cost of travel and lodging.
Meanwhile, the UMass-Lowell Athletics website advertised a $150 sold-out package including an all-session ticket to both the semifinals and the national championship game, bus transportation and two nights at the Residence Inn in Pittsburgh. Beginning on Thursday, Quinnipiac offered on its website all-session tickets for students at a reduced rate of $50 and free bus transportation to and from Pittsburgh on both Thursday and Saturday. Quinnipiac sold out all 600 tickets allotted to it by the NCAA for sale to both students and fans. Yale earmarked 100 of its tickets for student sale, and Beckett said that Yale has sold over 400 of its allocation in total.
Goaltender Nick Maricic ’13 said that the team hopes to see its fans in the arena cheering the Bulldogs on when it takes the ice on Thursday.
“We are thrilled with all the support we have had so far and would love to see it in Pittsburgh,” he said. “When it comes to this weekend, the more the better.”
Beckett said that the University’s experience with the NCAA regional in Grand Rapids, Mich., contributed to its misunderstanding of students’ willingness to purchase the $200 tickets. He noted that hundreds of students attended the viewing party in John J. Lee Amphitheater for both the regional semifinal against Minnesota and the regional final against North Dakota.
“We thought there would be a line of students out the door [for Frozen Four tickets], and we misread that,” Beckett said. “We’re trying to make adjustments now to see if we can get students there to make this trip and come back to campus after the game.”
In 2009 and 2010 Yale played in the NCAA regionals in Wooster, Mass., and Bridgeport, Conn., and many Yale students traveled to the nearby venues to attend. Each time, the Elis fell in the finals, before advancing to their first Frozen Four since 1952 this season.
The gravity of this week’s game has not eluded students like Morales.
“[Hockey is] the only major sport where Yale has that elite status, so going to the Frozen Four is something that we as a campus should really rally around,” the senior said. “I would really love to see that happen.”
The puck will drop in Yale’s semifinal game against UMass-Lowell at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday.