Students frustrated with ticket limits

Jordan Wells

WKU’s NCAA Tournament game against Kentucky gave Topper students a chance to see their school take on the nation’s No. 1 team.

But the vast majority of those students were unable to attend the Louisville game due to limited ticket availability.

WKU was allotted 550 tickets for Thursday’s game at the KFC Yum! Center, the same number allotted by the NCAA to all eight schools playing first-round games at the site.

WKU awarded 10 percent of those 550 to students via a random lottery, resulting in a total of 55 tickets sold directly to students for $60 apiece.

For a school that reports an official enrollment of more than 21,000 students, that means less than half a percent of the student body won the opportunity to buy tickets through WKU.

The rest of the 495 tickets were awarded to season ticket holders, Hilltopper Athletic Foundation donors and the team itself.

“I tried the lottery, Ticketmaster and Stubhub, I even tried to bribe my friends into buying their ticket in the event they won the lottery,” Louisville junior Mackenzie Horton said on Wednesday. “In the future, they should consider setting aside more tickets for students.”

Owensboro senior Callie Hobgood, who said she searched online and couldn’t find a ticket cheaper than $120, expressed similar frustrations.

“It’s a shame that more WKU students can’t be there to support our school,” Hobgood said. “It’s not every day they get to play Kentucky.”

Todd Stewart, senior associate athletic director, said “there’s no ironclad policy” for the percentage of a school’s tickets that are set aside for students.

“Ten percent seemed to be, based on the information we got, a very fair amount comparable to what other people do or are required to do,” he said.

The average student attendance at WKU home games in Diddle Arena this season was 700 fans, which equates to roughly 10 percent of the arena’s  7,326-seat capacity, Stewart said.

Many HAF members and season ticket holders were also unable to buy the school’s tickets because of the high demand for a limited number of tickets, Stewart said.

  Springfield, Ill., junior Alex Fahnders made the trip to Dayton, Ohio, for WKU’s first-round win over Mississippi Valley State but didn’t win a ticket for the Kentucky game.

“A system could be set up where the more home games people attend, the more chances they get in the lottery,” Fahnders said. “Some fans are just now showing up and getting tickets because the team is in the tournament.”

In the future, WKU will be able to accommodate more of its student body, Stewart said.

“The unusual thing about this game is we’re playing Kentucky in Louisville, and because of the type of season that they had, being No. 1 in the nation, their fans had a pretty good feeling they were going to be a No. 1 seed and they were going to be in Louisville, so they bought up all the tickets,” Stewart said. “…If we’re in the NCAA Tournament next year, obviously the site may not be as close, but wherever we are it probably won’t be the perfect storm that it was this year in that you have UK, ranked No. 1 in the nation, playing a couple of hours from their campus, with probably the best fan base in all of college basketball.”

In the end it came down to a high demand for a limited number of tickets, Stewart said.

“There’s no magic wand to wave to make more tickets,” he said.