UA seniors create ticket exchange platform

Nick Robbins, Contributing Writer

There is a new option for students who want to secure football tickets this fall. 

UA seniors Jared Waller and John Ritondo, both majoring in management and information sciences, created a website called Student Seats. Designed exclusively for UA students, the website requires a verified Crimson email to log on. 

Ritondo said the website started as a small web development project. The pair was tired of students being scammed while purchasing tickets through unsecure platforms like the Alabama Student Ticket Exchange Facebook group. 

The Alabama Student Ticket Exchange has about 75,000 members. Members can buy and sell tickets, setting their own prices. Transactions are usually conducted over Venmo. Once a ticket is purchased, it’s transferred through a student’s myBama account. 

“Scamming became such a problem that the [Alabama Student Ticket Exchange] owner pinned a post at the top of the page warning members not to send their money without 100% confidence,” Waller and Ritondo wrote on the website.  

It’s a system built on trust and sees frequent price gouging. Prices can get exorbitant for high-profile games, a problem made worse last year due to COVID-19 restrictions and limited capacity in Bryant-Denny Stadium. 

Some tickets to the Crimson Tide’s 2020 game against Georgia sold for more than $500, and the team’s 2019 clash with Louisiana State University saw ticket prices jump to $300.   

In addition to high prices, buyers and sellers both have to be vigilant for scams. The exchange system on Facebook requires a level of trust in order to obtain a ticket. The buyer may have to send the money first, which increases the risk of scams on an unprotected platform like Facebook. 

“We thought it could be great for the students, providing a safe environment for students to exchange tickets,” Ritondo said.

Dave Love, an administrator of the Alabama Student Ticket Exchange Facebook group, endorsed Waller and Ritondo’s efforts. 

Student Seats features an escrow transaction, so a third party will protect the money until a student receives their purchase. The website will charge buyers an escrow fee of 7%. StubHub, the official secondary ticketing partner of UA Athletics, has a 15% fee on ticket purchases. 

The site currently accepts payments from PayPal and Venmo, and they are working to include Apple Pay in the future. The preferred option for the site is PayPal and users signing up for the site are required to link a PayPal account. 

“Whatever way we can make it easier for students to use, we will. We want this to be an easy option for students to use,” Ritondo said.  

The site includes a contact form for students to reach out about problems they experience with getting their money or tickets. Waller and Ritondo plan to personally email anyone who reports an issue through the form. 

The website has garnered support from students on campus, including former Student Government Association President Demarcus Joiner. 

Tickets will not go on sale on the website until the week of the game. The pair hopes their new site can be a safe option for students to enjoy the Crimson Tide’s title defense this fall.