‘It just wasn’t fair’: Why athletics put a hold on student ticket transfers

Since the beginning of the 2020-21 Alabama football season, student tickets have become an extremely hot commodity. Now, the University is putting a stop to rampant resales.

This year, seating was limited in Bryant-Denny Stadium to roughly 20% capacity to abide by social distancing guidelines. This change in seating not only changed the rarity of tickets for each game, but it’s caused the price for some tickets to skyrocket. 

UA Vice President for Student Life Myron Pope said that after a chaotic Georgia game, fans expressed their frustration about rising ticket prices.

“People were trying to resell their tickets for $400 and $500. That’s an obscene amount,” Pope said. “We got quite a few complaints from students, from parents, from a variety of places. That’s what caused the athletics department to take a step back and say, ‘Maybe we need to take a step back and reevaluate this.’”

The Alabama Student Ticket Exchange is a Facebook page dedicated for UA students to sell their student tickets and transfer them through the MyBama student portal. Most transactions are through Venmo and other online transfer applications and then tickets are transferred. 

In most years, resold home game tickets might cost anywhere from $40 to $100 for mid-scale games. Once a top 25 opponent came to Tuscaloosa, though, ticket prices would usually rise to around $200. But with this season’s reduction in seating and the number of games, ticket prices have gone well over the average price range. 

Tickets for the top-5 matchup between No. 2 Alabama and No. 3 Georgia went from anywhere between $250 and $500. With roughly 3,000 student tickets in the pool of over 30,000 students, the rarity of the game and the seats caused students to charge much higher asking prices for what some would call a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. 

An email regarding this outcry about the scarcity of tickets and the high asking prices reached administrators at The University of Alabama. After weeks of speculation, the UA ticket office sent an email on Nov. 6 to all UA students stating that ticket transfers would be eliminated for the remaining two home games. Additionally, a percentage (5%) of the graduate student ticket allotment has been redistributed to the senior class allotment “to better align with the opt-in percentages of the previous three home games,” the email stated. 

Other changes to student tickets include:

Tickets will be priced at $20 per game. A $3 order charge will also apply for each game.

Students will be limited to a maximum of two games via the opt-in process across the entire season to maximize inventory and reach as many students as possible. If you receive a ticket via the opt-in process it will count towards your two-game limit even if you donate or do not use the ticket.

Students will be able to opt-in to request a ticket from Monday at 8 a.m. CT – Tuesday, at 5 p.m. CT during the week prior to the home game. The opt-in process will be conducted on RollTide.com and require students to submit a card to be held on file and only be charged should their request be fulfilled.

Tickets will be awarded by UA earned credit hours (as of the conclusion of the Summer 2020 semester) within the respective classes based on the percentages below:

  • Seniors – 45%
  • Juniors – 20%
  • Sophomores – 15%
  • Freshmen – 15%
  • Graduate/Professional – 5

Lower versus upper bowl general admission seat assignments will be based on UA-earned credit hours.

“Student tickets are intended for use only by those students who meet the athletics eligibility requirements and have completed the required COVID re-entry testing, training, and health check registration,” the email concluded.

Pope came to the University last spring and said he has not had time to look at the student ticket transfer system fully. He stressed that the decision to halt transfers was not final and that more work would be done in the offseason to tweak the system. Students should expect this rule to either change or be renounced later in 2021.  

“The solution doesn’t solve the entire problem,” Pope said. “It was just enough for us to try and intervene and stop some of the issues that we saw… It just wasn’t fair and just wasn’t right. To be honest, we need to go back and reevaluate the entire process.”