Boston College must correct the ticket purchasing process for popular and large athletic events to prevent inequitable ticketing practices and inflated prices. The current sale of tickets excludes some students, fosters a hostile resell environment, and undermines the camaraderie of students supporting BC’s sports teams.
In 2020, BC Athletics, a non-profit organization, made over $87 million in revenue. Student tickets contribute to this revenue, although it may not translate to a positive net profit. According to BC Athletics, about 50 percent of BC students opt for the Gold Pass, which offers access “to regular-season home football, men’s ice hockey, men’s basketball and women’s basketball games.” Gold Passes are sold for an early bird price of $199 and then sell for $225 after July 31. For certain high-profile games, however, the Gold Pass fails to guarantee student access.
BC hosted the Duke men’s basketball team this Saturday in Conte Forum, and the game is included on the men’s basketball game schedule. The game was not in the Gold Pass despite being considered a regular season game. According to BC Athletics, “for games where there is anticipated high demand, BC Athletics will implement a ticket pick-up procedure at the Ticket Office. Details will be sent to your email prior to any high demand games.”
Students who had the Gold Pass were offered the opportunity to attend the women’s basketball game against North Carolina State on Thursday night, where early-arriving students could receive a voucher that could be redeemed for a men’s basketball game ticket at the end of the women’s game. Vouchers were limited, however, and many students had previous obligations, such as class or work, that prevented them from attending.
The amount of vouchers available could not meet the demand of students interested in attending. This forced students to purchase non-student tickets out-of-pocket. A similar situation arose during the sale of tickets to the men’s Beanpot, a hockey tournament popular with BC students. These decisions demonstrate how BC Athletics prioritizes capitalizing off of popular games over providing student access.
These high barriers to entry left students who wished to attend the men’s game with no other options but to buy non-student tickets through BC Athletics or to find another student willing to sell. Shortly after the women’s game, social media platforms were abuzz with posts from students who managed to grab a ticket to the men’s game hoping to sell it online. BC Athletics’ tickets weren’t cheap, either. Prices started around $125 and only went up from there. The resulting environment was toxic and competitive, undermining the school spirit that drives students to attend games in the first place.
Further, BC Athletics’ attempt to garner support for the women’s basketball team by leveraging tickets to the men’s game is disrespectful to women’s sports across campus and the country. Some students quite literally attended the women’s basketball game to profit off of a men’s basketball ticket. BC itself has created an environment that appears to values profit over school pride, suggesting students should do the same.
This sentiment is also reflected in the sale of men’s Beanpot tickets. The men’s Beanpot, or the “social event of winter season,” is an annual hockey tournament held at TD Garden between four Boston schools: BC, Boston University, Northeastern University, and Harvard University.
The event is charged with tradition and emotion, but it is not included in the Gold Pass. The men’s Beanpot is not considered a regular-season home game, and therefore ticket sales operate outside of the bounds of the Gold Pass. This information, however, was not shared with the entire student body in a timely manner.
TD Garden has an exclusive contract with Ticketmaster to sell tickets to their events, virtually cutting hosts like BC Athletics out of the deal. Steps can still be taken, however, to mitigate the ticket scalping that plagued campus this past week. For example, BC should have alerted all students to the start of the sale.
Tickets for the men’s Beanpot cost around $20 to $40 and were sold through Ticketmaster. Emails from BC Athletics alerting students to the sale of tickets were sent exclusively to those with the Gold Pass, according to BC Athletics, which left some students in the dark. BC Athletics’ email included a promotional code to purchase tickets at a reduced price, but for students who did not receive this email, the only option was to pay full price through Ticketmaster or purchase from another student. Tickets sold out quickly and students took to social media platforms such as Herrd, Facebook, and GroupMe to resell them for inflated prices.
The exclusivity of ticket access and failure to properly communicate the ticket purchasing procedure ahead of time for the men’s Beanpot resulted in chaos. Moreover, students who are not in the financial position to purchase the Gold Pass but plan on purchasing tickets to individual games such as the men’s Beanpot were entirely left out of the equation. Students should not have to rely on purchasing tickets from other students at higher prices in order to support student athletes and represent their school at athletic events.
Ticket sales at comparative schools to BC are managed much more effectively. For example, Georgetown University sells student season tickets for the men’s basketball games. The tickets include all 18 home games in the men’s basketball team’s 2021—22 season and specifically promises to save students money if they plan on attending “even our two most highly anticipated home games in a season,” according to Georgetown Athletics. The goal should be to offer students affordable and accessible student tickets to athletic events.
As winter sports seasons draw to a close and spring seasons ramp up, BC Athletics should include all home sports games on the Gold Pass. Limited exceptions should be effectively justified to students prior to their Gold Pass purchase. For games hosted at private external venues, such as TD Garden, BC Athletics should ensure that all students are receiving proper communication about ticket sale procedures. Students should not be required to jump through numerous hoops and pay unreasonably high prices to watch their peers compete at athletic events. The BC community is centered around supporting one another in all of our passions, and this camaraderie should not be bridled by gouged ticket prices and fine print.