San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

SDSU ticket office responds to men’s basketball student tickets limits

Student feedback and a new brand partnership define the future of student tickets
Noelani Sapla
A general view of the San Diego State student section during their 2023-2024 home opener again Cal State Fullerton at Viejas Arena on Nov. 6, 2023. The Aztecs have had announced sellout crowds at all 12 of their home games against DI opponents this season.

Three business days  before game day, thousands of San Diego State students suddenly become morning people.

As the clock nears 9:15 a.m., a student uses one hand to hold her coffee and the other to refresh her text messages. Suddenly, the text arrives and the race is on.

She frantically clicks the link in the message, only to be put on a waiting list behind hundreds of peers who were quicker than her.

SDSU men’s basketball games have a limited number of free tickets available to their students, and they rarely go unclaimed. Other than football, men’s basketball is the only sport with limited student access. Bobbie Walker, SDSU’s associate athletic director for Ticket Operations, explained why there is a limit.

“It’s a very small arena. We have season ticket holders and others who need to attend, so we have to limit the amount based on the capacity of the student section,” Walker said when referring to Viejas Arena.

Of the arena’s 12,414-seat capacity, about 9,000 seats are reserved for season pass holders, 2,500 are reserved for students and 500 are reserved for single-game ticket holders. That’s about 20% of the stadium seats reserved for students.

For reference, Gonzaga has the same percentage of student seats in their arena, but the student section at Saint Mary’s College allows 14.3%  of its stadium to students.

Student tickets at SDSU are included in tuition and season tickets this year range from $209 to $2,515.

According to the Aztec Club website, part of the funds from season tickets contribute to scholarships, academic resources and equipment for student-athletes. CapRadio also reports that “football and men’s basketball make up a majority of revenue brought in by athletic departments, and some of those funds currently go to subsidize other sports.”

Not every student agrees with the current seat ratio, however.

“Students should be prioritized,” Awva Bashiri, a third-year student, said. “I feel like (season tickets) should be a smaller number, and that way there would be more room for the students who actually attend the school and have a limited amount of time to experience college basketball.”

Even though SDSU does not intend to decrease the number of seats for season ticket holders, student voices don’t go unheard.

“We work hand in hand with Associated Student leadership,” Walker said. “We have meetings once a month to talk about how we make our communication better, then we have a follow-up at the end of the basketball season to go over what worked and what didn’t.”

The meetings are not regularly scheduled every month, rather they are arranged as new ideas or feedback come about.

Walker considers Sam Lingao, vice president of Associated Students, as his “eyes and ears on the street.”

“They get a lot of good feedback that they share with us in those calls, like ways to improve, or some of the things that students are saying on campus, so it’s very valuable,” Walker said.

In one of those meetings prior to this season, SDSU’s ticket operations and marketing team proposed to partner with Vozzi, an SMS platform, to provide a shortcut to student tickets. It wasn’t until Lingao expressed her approval that the plan was brought to action.

Using Vozzi, SDSU sends mass texts to students with a link to claim their free basketball ticket. The mass text arrives five days before the game between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m., as assumed by the pattern of text messages. The tickets are typically sold out in minutes.

Some schools, like Saint Mary’s College, have no online student ticket portal at all. Instead, students show up on game day with their ID to get in.

Gonzaga has an online ticket portal for students and also has a posted student ticket release schedule — SDSU has something similar on

Katelyn Dominik, a third-year student, considers mass texts for student tickets to be more instant than email (SDSU’s previous method), but her experience with the new system comes with obstacles.

“I found that trying to get tickets on my phone is more challenging than on my laptop, so having to transfer the link from my phone to my laptop has kind of been a challenge,” Dominik said. “Overall, just finding out that I sat in line and didn’t get a ticket but someone who tried 10 minutes after I did, it’s just kind of frustrating.”

Even though all student tickets at SDSU typically get claimed, not all who claim show up.

“It’s frustrating when you have 2,500 tickets claimed and 50% of the students show up,” Walker said. “That’s over a thousand students who claimed their tickets and didn’t show up, and I know there’s a lot of students that would love to attend the game.”

Unlike previous years, the new mass texting system enables students to return their tickets before the game.

“We’re just trying to get creative, to get the students who claim to actually attend, or give us their tickets back so we could get the most students possible out of the 2,500 we have set aside,” Walker said.

To claim a returned student ticket, students can visit SDSU’s ticket website or talk to SDSU’s box office on game day.

“With men’s basketball, our demand is extremely high,” Walker said. “But it’s a good problem to have that our students are excited and want to attend.”

Walker collaborates with Associated Students and other universities to evolve SDSU’s ticketing operations.

Given Vozzi’s effectiveness in reaching students, SDSU will continue the brand partnership during the Mountain West Championship and March Madness.

The postseason meeting between Walker and Associated Students is yet to be determined but will fall between March and April.

That will be the last opportunity this academic year to discuss new ideas for student tickets going forward.

About the Contributors
Emily Augustine, '23-24 Graphics Editor
Noelani Sapla
Noelani Sapla, Staff Photographer, '21-22 Photo Editor
Born and raised in San Diego, Noelani is a graduate student at San Diego State University working towards a masters degree in education. She joined the Daily Aztec staff as the photo editor for the 2021-2022 year, and is currently a staff photographer. She credits the Daily Aztec for the experience and opportunities to cover the NCAA tournament in Houston where the men's basketball team played in the national championship game. While having a degree in education and teaching, Noelani's dream is to become a professional sports photographer.