By Adrienne Burch and Ashley Tripp
From Saturday nights in Death Valley to A&M’s 12th man, SEC student sections have established themselves as some of the best in the country. However, the way students get their tickets and seats to cheer on their beloved teams varies from school to school.
At The University of Alabama all current students are given the option to purchase season tickets as long as they meet eligibility requirements and opt-in by a certain date, and freshmen are able to purchase partial season packages, according to the Student Ticket Eligibility Requirements. However, students at other schools face different criteria.
Chris Kessling, a junior majoring in psychology at the University of Florida, said not every student is guaranteed football tickets because of UF’s student season football ticket lottery.
“With our lottery for season tickets, most people don’t get tickets their freshman year, but then they get them their next three years,” Kessling said. “Mostly freshmen are the ones left out.”
Janine Sikes, assistant vice president of media relations at UF, said there are more students than there are student football tickets available.
“So no, not all students receive football tickets,” Sikes said.
Seating capacity of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium is 90,000 and 22,500 are allotted to students. There are 50,000 students at UF, Sikes said.
UF students are prioritized for the lottery based on their number of credit hours, much like the post-season ticket lottery at The University of Alabama.
“Students who have earned 90 or more UF credit hours have the best chance of winning the lottery. These credits are those that each student has accumulated while attending the University of Florida, not credits transferred from another school,” according the UF ticketing website.
Kessling said UF’s football tickets cost $15 per game. The University of Alabama recently raised their student ticket prices to $10, a $5 increase from last year.
Students at the University of South Carolina, however, get free tickets to home football games, but they earn these tickets based off a loyalty points system.
“We get free tickets as students, but it’s based on a lottery system,” Erin McGivern, a sophomore majoring in visual communication at USC said. “We also get ‘points’ for attending other sports games, like basketball, basketball, etc. The more points you have, the better chances you have of getting a ticket.”
According to the USC student ticket distribution policy, “Loyalty Points” are awarded based on attendance at home football, men’s and women’s basketball and baseball games, which is tracked via handheld scanners at the student entrances at Williams-Brice Stadium, The Colonial Life Arena and Carolina Stadium.
Students are awarded two loyalty points for attending a non-SEC football game, one loyalty point for attending an SEC football game and one extra loyalty point for entering the stadium more than an hour before kickoff. One loyalty point is deducted if a student claims a ticket for an SEC football game but does not attend the game without cancelling the ticket prior to kickoff, and two points are deducted if the game is non-SEC.
“If you’re lucky, you will get a student section ticket, but recently a lot of students have been placed in the upper deck sections simply because we just have so many students,” McGivern said. “You can buy a ticket if you really want to go to the game and didn’t get one in the lottery, but most people just give up at that point since they’re so expensive.”
Texas A&M University offers students the largest percentage of student seats in a collegiate stadium, with more than 30,000 tickets given to students, according to the Aggie Athletics website. They offer students an all-sports ticketing option that costs $350 and includes prepaid admission to all regular season home events for every sports, or students can purchase the football-only option for $200. They also offer three-game football packages for $100.
The University of Georgia recently announced they are cutting 2,054 student seats and reallocating them to their Young Alumni group, leaving only 15,856 seats open to students. However, they will still sell the same number of student tickets because they are accounting for the fact that their will be a significant number of students who will not show up to games but who bought tickets.
Abby Bergquist, a sophomore majoring in public relations at UGA, said students typically still get tickets if they want them.
“Pretty much anyone gets a full season now,” Bergquist said.
Berquist also said UGA has blocked seating for students, like The University of Alabama.
“Our football stadium also has blocked seating for students, and then there is a greek
section as well that the fraternities will rent out,” she said.
Ole Miss is one of the SEC schools that does not have block seating.
Maggie Pitts, a sophomore majoring in special education at Ole Miss, said students can sit anywhere in their allocated sections.
“The students have the right and center areas of the south end zone and the rest is for other fans,” Pitts said.
The University of Florida does have block seating, and Kessling said it consists of mostly fraternities and sororities.
“But CRU and a few other organizations [use block seating] as well,” he said.
UF also has weekly block meetings on the Monday before the home game where the block chairperson adds or subtract students from the block, according to the UF ticket website.