Column: Online student ticket system is unreliable

Viejas+Arena+opened+on+the+west+side+of+SDSU%27s+campus+in+1997.

File photo

Viejas Arena opened on the west side of SDSU's campus in 1997.

by Kyle Betz, Assistant Sports Editor

I found myself waiting four hours trying to claim a San Diego State men’s basketball student ticket Wednesday.

This wasn’t any ordinary basketball game ticket, though.

This ticket was for SDSU’s game against Utah State on Feb. 1.

This is one of the biggest games left on the Aztecs’ regular season schedule due to their current 22-game winning streak. It’s also the Aztecs’ second game against the Aggies this year, a team who defeated SDSU in the Mountain West tournament championship last season to deny SDSU an NCAA Tournament berth.

Oh, and I also forgot to mention Feb. 1 also marks the day SDSU basketball legend Kawhi Leonard’s jersey will be retired among the Viejas Arena rafters, with Leonard expected to be in attendance.

With these two factors in play, it will be a monumental day for SDSU athletics.

At exactly 9 a.m. on Wednesday when the tickets were released, I tried claiming my free student ticket through SDSUStudentTix.com — the student ticket website.

Among the notifications I got from the site while I tried to redeem my ticket included:

“Our apologies! Our site is encountering heavier than normal traffic. Please check back later.”

“504 Gateway Time-out.”

“Hmmm … We were unable to cancel the transfer of those tickets. Please try again.”

“Our apologies. Failed to assign your tickets.”

At 9:37 a.m., Viejas Arena tweeted the SDSU student ticket website had not crashed.

Even if there was a “high demand,” shouldn’t I have been able to claim my tickets right after 9 a.m. if the website didn’t crash?

After vigorously refreshing the page for 51 straight minutes, the site was finally able to load properly.

“Your seats will be assigned at … Today 11:00 AM.”

Are you kidding me?

Exactly 30 minutes later, I refreshed the screen just to make sure nothing had changed.

“Your seats will be assigned at … Today 12:00 PM.”

I tried logging in at noon, and I got the same error messages I received before.

A few minutes later, I was able to get to the screen to accept my ticket, but it was followed by a new message.

“Gathering your tickets,” it said. “We’re working on securing your seats. This shouldn’t take too long, so check back later.”

Long story short: I was unable to claim my ticket and all student tickets were sold out by 1 p.m.

If one has to wait more than two minutes to claim a student ticket, there’s clearly something wrong with the system.

The first-ever piece I wrote for The Daily Aztec was a student reaction to the new online ticket system that was put into place in October 2017.

Students used to wait — even camp — outside of Viejas Arena to claim their free student tickets for football and men’s basketball.

And other schools like Gonzaga and Duke celebrate similar campus traditions for claiming tickets or securing the best seats in the student section. 

And those fans often brave the cold winter weather — blizzards even — just for a chance to cheer on their teams from the student section.

Technology has replaced the issuing of physical tickets at many schools including SDSU, but has it been for the best?

I hadn’t experienced any problems with the online student ticket website until today. But SDSU Athletics seemed to think the online system, as flawed as it was today, is still better.

SDSU associate athletic director of marketing and new media Lisa Pearson argued the online system was better in a tweet Wednesday morning.

While that might be true, I would rather wait a few hours in line at the box office to claim a guaranteed ticket than wait four hours trying to claim an unpromised ticket through a broken online system.

You’d also think this is something SDSU Athletics would have prepared for. Did they not expect a high volume of students trying to claim a ticket for Leonard’s jersey retirement?

Those with answers only seem to produce the same talking points.

“Keep trying! Don’t give up!!”

I shouldn’t have to keep trying as a faulty online system continues to crash. I just want to go to the game.

What’s even more concerning is that some students will end up not going to the game or sell/give their tickets to people who are not students at SDSU.

Now, students who were unable to claim a ticket are forced to miss out on the game or buy another ticket — all of which are selling for $136 or more, per StubHub.

The online ticket system seemed like a good move just two years ago, but now we are starting to experience the downfall of technology.

Something has to change, as this ticket system will experience even more traffic until the Aztecs reach tournament play.

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