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Ethan Brill ’16 only received his ticket for the Harvard-Yale football game this coming Saturday after waiting two-and-a-half hours in line outside Payne Whitney Gymnasium. But not everyone was so lucky.
Less than two days after Ray Tompkins House opened its ticket office for sales, Yale’s approximately 3,000 student tickets for The Game sold out at around 3:30 p.m. yesterday, with over 100 students still remaining in line. The quick sellout comes just two years after 250 Yale student tickets went unsold for the 2012 Harvard-Yale game in Cambridge.
“Based on previous years, we weren’t anticipating this level of demand,” Associate Athletic Director of Ticket Operations Jeremy Makins said. “None of us have seen a line like this before.”
Students expressed their anger and frustration that, due to increased ticket sales, they were unable to participate in the Yale tradition. Those unable to acquire a ticket through conventional means turned to social media sites and friends to find an alternative source for tickets. As of press time, the cheapest ticket on StubHub was about $200.
Natalia Salinas ’17, who managed to get her ticket through a friend at Harvard, said that The Game is something students look forward to, and they should not have to resort to paying high prices on secondary markets simply to attend.
“It just doesn’t seem right that some people won’t even have a chance to go,” Salinas said. “I don’t understand if it’s because of logistics or what have you, but it seems strange that so much of the student body was let down.”
With Yale still in contention for an Ivy League title and following the recent announcement that ESPN’s College GameDay will be broadcast from outside Harvard Stadium before the game, Yale students formed a line yesterday morning that extended on both sides of the Ray Tompkins House hallways as well as roughly 100 yards, the length of a football field, to the marked crosswalk in front of Payne Whitney Gymnasium.
At approximately 2 p.m., Makins cut off the line at the number of people he estimated would get tickets, adding remaining students to a waitlist. Makins reached out to Harvard in an effort to acquire additional tickets, but in an email sent last night to students on the waitlist, he said that these efforts were unsuccessful.
Many students noted that the long line may have had a snowball effect, as students got in line around noon yesterday specifically because they heard about the crowd.
On Monday, the first day of ticket sales, Yale sold just over 1,000 tickets with no lines. Alex Petros ’16 said rumors of tickets selling out spread quickly, which drew more and more people to the ticket office.
“I think that people realized that tickets were on the verge of running out and texted all of their friends to come as soon as possible,” he said. “This created a vicious cycle and a longer and longer line.”
While this hectic process and the quick sellout disappointed many Yale students, Harvard students had no such problems, as students are guaranteed a free ticket for the game through Harvard’s houses, according to Harvard sophomore Nicholas Bonstow.
Bonstow added that tickets are distributed to each house in advance of The Game to ease access for students.
Additionally, Harvard students have never been shut out of a Harvard-Yale game at the Yale Bowl in recent years, both because the Yale Bowl’s capacity of 64,246 is much larger, and because Harvard does not use all 3,000 tickets that the Yale athletics office allots them. Last year, for example, Harvard sold just 2,368 of its student tickets, Makins said.
The approximately 3,000 tickets allotted for Yale students and guests comprise only about 10 percent of the 30,323 seats at Harvard Stadium, and are enough for only about 60 percent of Yale’s undergraduate population.
Several students interviewed said that they wished Harvard had offered more tickets to Yale students and their guests. Harvard’s general admission tickets, which were offered online for $40, had also sold out by noon on Tuesday.
While Harvard’s general admission tickets were offered online, student tickets were only available directly from the Ray Tompkins House ticket booth. Students interviewed expressed frustration that there was no alternative way to purchase tickets, suggesting online sales as the ideal alternative to waiting in line.
Kellen Svetov ’16 was unable to acquire a ticket because he was in class during the Tuesday push for tickets.
“Online ticket sales would be far more efficient and negate the need to wait in the cold for two hours,” Svetov said.
Makins agreed that the ticket sales system could be better, but he noted that the current system in place had never created long lines before this year. After the recent sellout, however, the system will be re-evaluated, Makins said.
Olivier Van Donselaar ’17 said he was less frustrated with the ticket sales system itself than with the fact that many students wrongly assumed there would be enough tickets for at least the total undergraduate student body. He added that many students had already organized their travel plans around securing a ticket to the game. While he still intends to travel to Cambridge this weekend, other students sold their previously bought bus tickets on Facebook.
Many students unable to wait in line asked friends to buy guest tickets for them. Guest tickets this year cost $50, up from $35 in 2012. While the strategy benefited some students, it decreased the number of tickets available to those in line.
“People are taking advantage of guest tickets,” Makins said. “It’s been the way we’ve managed it as far back as I have records, and we didn’t feel comfortable changing that today.”
Brill, who acquired the last ticket sold, said the option to buy a guest ticket prevented people who had waited in line from acquiring their ticket. He added that it was easy for other students to cut the line due to its disorganization.
Along with Makins, students interviewed cited Yale’s current football success and coverage from ESPN as primary reasons for the increased demand of tickets.
Petros, who purchased a ticket shortly after 1 p.m. on Tuesday, said he believes this year’s game is going to be more exciting than in previous years.
“Yale football has been great this year, and people are optimistic that this is the year we finally beat Harvard,” he said. “GameDay coming to Cambridge is the icing on the cake.”
Svetov said that if Yale continues to find football success, it could see problems like this in the future necessitated by Harvard’s small stadium size.
Yale football captain and wide receiver Deon Randall ’15 agreed that the long lines reflect added student enthusiasm for this year’s Harvard-Yale game.
“It means a lot that we have that kind of support from the student body,” Randall said. “We are excited for [the fans] to make a difference from the stands.”
Yale last won the Harvard-Yale game in 2006.