Students complain distribution process is chaotic, disorderly
By JASON MCFARLEY
As late night fell Thursday on one of the biggest ticket sales events in Notre Dame history, students remained packed in lines outside the Joyce Center, waiting for tickets to an Oct. 10 concert by Irish rock band U2.
The sales began mid-afternoon Thursday with the largest student turnout — more than 4,500, University officials estimated — for a Joyce Center concert and ended eight hours later amid student confusion and complaints.
"It's utter confusion," said Notre Dame junior Maria Mahon around 6:30 p.m. Thursday, after getting off her cell phone with a friend she was buying tickets for. "It's like a packed mob."
"Horrendous! ... there was no organization," said Brian McKenna, a Notre Dame sophomore, immediately after buying two $46 floor tickets to the concert.
Most student complaints seemingly stemmed from the three-part lottery system used to distribute about 10,000 tickets.
The system required Notre Dame, Saint Mary's and Holy Cross College students to line up between 3 and 4 p.m. to receive entitlement tickets. Those tickets allowed students to draw at 4 p.m. a color-coded ticket that determined their places in one of three selling lines.
At 6 p.m., security personnel announced the number from which ticket sales in each line would start.
But disorderly mobs, not lines, were typical of Thursday's ticket sales, students said.
"There were no lines," said Saint Mary's junior Liz Stevens. "No one really lined up to get entitlement tickets or the lottery tickets. There were just mobs of people around the ushers."
Stevens arrived at Gate 10 of the Joyce Center around 3 p.m. with five friends. At 9:30 p.m., there were 500 people ahead of Stevens in her assigned ticket-selling line.
"It's been a nightmare," said Steven's friend Erika Borowiak, also a Saint Mary's junior, seated outside the arena doing homework. "We've just moved from one mob to the next, and we still haven't found all our friends."
The distribution was unnecessarily cumbersome, according to some buyers.
Lining up three times proved pointless, and students shouldn't have had to receive a ticket at 3 p.m. just to get a ticket at 4 p.m., Mahon said.
McKenna drew parallels between the U2 ticket sales and another distribution event that often attracts criticism.
"It's worse than football [ticket] distribution," McKenna said.
Of course, some students negotiated the crowds with few problems.
Notre Dame senior Robyn Harridge had her tickets in hand by 6:15 p.m.
"I can't complain; I had a really good lottery number," Harridge said, standing in line with a friend around 10 p.m. "But I feel bad for all the people still out here waiting."
Officials stopped sales at 11 p.m., after all students with lottery numbers bought tickets, said Jim Murphy, the University's crowd control supervisor.
Not since a concert by country music star Garth Brooks has the student body turned out in numbers even close to Thursday's, Murphy said.
"The multitudes were overwhelming," Murphy said Thursday, "and we were shorthanded on staff."
Despite negative student opinion, Murphy expressed few concerns about the sales.
"Some people listened to our instructions; some didn't," he said. "On the whole, student cooperated very well."
Throughout the afternoon and night, students left the premises and returned with food and drinks. Some had pizza delivered to the arena. Others played volleyball or threw Frisbees in the Joyce Center parking lot to pass the time.
Crowds cheered whenever security officers and ushers announced over public address systems the next group of students who could purchase tickets. And after leaving one of five ticket office windows, many students raised their passes in the air, looks of relief and victory on their faces.
The Oct. 10 U2 concert will be at 7:30 p.m. in the Joyce Center. The appearance by the star Irish band kicks off the third leg of the group's international Elevation Tour.
On Thursday, about 10,000 tickets were available for students to purchase. Students could buy a maximum of two tickets.
Registered members of U2.com, the band's official fan-run Web site, purchased some 500 pre-sale tickets Thursday morning.
Tour promoters required University ticketing officials to set aside an undisclosed limited amount of tickets for sale to the local community. Those general public tickets go on sale Monday.
All News Stories for Friday, September 21, 2001