As Wisconsin prepares to face Texas Christian University in the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day, an independent daily newspaper on the University of Wisconsin campus has taken some students to task for attempting to turn a profit on their bowl tickets.
On the evening of December 5, 5,800 student tickets, each selling for $145, sold out online in twenty minutes. Within hours, UW’s independent newspaper, the Badger-Herald, learned that a number of students had listed their tickets for sale at higher prices on Facebook Marketplace, and possibly other sites.
The next day, the paper published an editorial entitled “The Worst People on Campus,” accusing the resellers of cheating their fellow students out of face value tickets for the game. The article listed the names of 38 students the paper identified as involved in the scalping and openly encouraged readers to “ridicule” those students listed.
Following the article’s indictment, some of these 38 students reported receiving harassing emails and Facebook messages from those angry about the attempted sales, and some removed their tickets from sale as a campus-wide controversy erupted. On December 7, WMTV TV in Madison, WI, reported that the author of the article, Editor-in-Chief Kevin Bargnes, believed his article had been misinterpreted, labeling his intentions in publishing the piece to be “lighthearted” and “tongue-in-cheek.”
On December 8, the Badger-Herald Editorial Board published a statement disavowing knowledge of the article’s publishing, stating that it was published by Bargnes without their consent. In its statement, the Board announced that it had removed the list of names from the original article, with the following explanation: “We don’t have the resources to continue fact-checking and adding the additional 200 or so names that have been submitted to the newspaper since the initial publication of ‘The Worst People on Campus.’ Because of this, it would be unfair to single out the three dozen people previously listed on this page.” The Board added that the bulk of blame should lay with the Athletics Department, asserting that the AD’s policy of selling a limited quantity of tickets at home weeks before the game, as opposed to on-site in the days before, encourages scalping behavior among students.
On a national level, the Rose Bowl is certainly one of the best selling bowl games currently on the secondary market. Christian Anderson, head of corporate communications for ticket search engine FanSnap, reports that the Rose Bowl comes in second only to the January 10 2011 BCS National Championship game in the site’s FanDemand rankings this week, with 5,342 tickets listed, starting at $242 and averaging $521. Tickets on StubHub range from $234 to $4,500, and on Razorgator from $255 to $1,033.
Max Waisvisz, owner of Gold Coast Tickets and vice president of the National Association of Ticket Brokers, sees a different picture locally, however. “I don’t see the [sales for] Rose Bowl tickets being that wild. The pricing is nothing crazy, and there are a lot of tickets still on the board. We’re not getting that many calls for it at all, and we’re right on the border of Wisconsin. Everybody’s looking at the BCS.”