Even as they scramble to slash their own budgets, administrators said Wednesday that they have cobbled together an estimated $30,000 to subsidize student tickets to the men’s hockey team’s NCAA Tournament opener on Friday in Bridgeport.
The Bulldogs’ game against Vermont at the 8,500-seat Arena at Harbor Yard is now sold out. But as a result of administrators’ clambering to obtain leftover tickets from the three other schools competing in the East Regional, about 300 tickets will be made available today to students for $25 apiece, one-third of their face value.
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“We’ve essentially taken all the available tickets in the arena and made them available to Yale students,” Director of Athletics Ticket Operations Jeremy Makins said.
Athletics Director Tom Beckett called the scrambling for tickets “a nightmare,” but he said he is hopeful that when all is said and done, the University will have been able to sell tickets to every student, alumnus and season ticket holder who wants to attend Friday’s game, the hockey team’s first postseason berth in 11 years and only the third in its history.
“We’re trying to meet as best we can the interest from our students,” he said. “That’s our first priority.”
The Athletics Department began Monday with Yale’s 400-ticket allotment from the NCAA. But the tickets were gone by the end of the day, with 252 tickets going to students for a reduced price of $25 and another 100 going to hockey players.
Yale officials then asked representatives from Michigan, Air Force and Vermont for any leftover tickets the schools could not sell and kept a waiting list in the meantime.
Tickets from Michigan and Air Force arrived Tuesday evening, allowing for 111 more students to attend the game. The Athletics Department secured another batch late Wednesday from the University of Vermont and Fairfield University, which is co-hosting the East Regional along with Yale.
As a result, about 300 tickets will be available to students today for the same $25 price, Director of Marketing for the Athletics Department Patrick O’Neill said late Wednesday.
The subsidized tickets are being paid for by the Athletics Department, the President’s Office, the Yale College Dean’s Office and several corporate sponsors, though Beckett said administrators are still trying to figure out how to gather the money to pay for the additional tickets that have become available. “We’re going to find it somehow,” he promised.
Each student ticket gets the holder into three games: the two matchups on Friday, and Saturday’s game to advance to the Frozen Four.
By Friday, Beckett estimated that as many as 600 student tickets could be distributed, which is the about the same number of tickets that the Athletics Department typically makes available for regular season home games at Ingalls Rink.
Students have groused about the $75 price for all-session tickets to the East Regional, and that cost complicated the University’s efforts to secure tickets for students. (The NCAA set a $75 to $90 price range for all-session tickets to the NCAA Tournament regionals after consulting ticket prices for comparable events, such as NHL games, a spokesman for the NCAA, Cameron Schuh, said Wednesday.)
In addition to asking for unused tickets from other schools, universities can purchase unsold tickets outright if they pay face value, Schuh said. On Saturday, when Yale won the ECAC conference tournament to clinch a tournament bid, 2,000 all-session tickets remained for the East Regional, the Connecticut Post reported.
But the University was not in a position to purchase them en masse. “I would have loved to have done it,” Beckett said. “But I didn’t have $75,000.”
The Athletics Department also said Wednesday that, in a change of plans, it will not to provide shuttle buses to Friday’s game, citing concerns over rush-hour traffic along Interstate 95. Instead, administrators are encouraging students to take the train, as the Metro-North railroad stops less than 200 yards from the arena in Bridgeport.
The Bulldogs, which received a No. 2 seed, face third-seeded Vermont at 6:30 p.m., while top-seeded Michigan will play No. 4 Air Force at 3 p.m. The winners of both games will face off on Saturday at 6:30 p.m. for a berth in next month’s Frozen Four.