While it appears that fears of a large-scale breakdown of the mobile-only ticketing scheme for the College Football Playoff Championship between Georgia and Alabama went unrealized, reports and social media show that the fan experience left much to be desired in Atlanta.
With temperatures hovering not far above freezing and a steady rain falling from the Georgia sky, fans were forced to endure massive lines, due in large part to security surrounding the presence of President Trump, whose entrance closed one of the main entry gates, making long lines that much longer.
Mike Hiserman, a reporter with the Los Angeles Times, relayed the scene via Twitter just over an hour prior to kickoff. “Angry crowds locked outside Mercedez-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. People throwing insults and punches. Meanwhile, inside, the roof is leaking. What a mess!”
Andy Scholes, a reporter for CNN, posted video to Twitter of the angry fans waiting in the rain.
They locked down @MBStadium for @realDonaldTrump an hour ago and myself and a thousand fans have been waiting in the rain to get in. Let’s just say there were plenty of boos when Trump arrived pic.twitter.com/6XIr8YO5gO
— Andy Scholes (@AndyScholesCNN) January 8, 2018
At least some fans saw one downside of the mobile ticketing, as the long waits led them to get to the gate, only to find their batteries were toast on their mobile devices, according to reporting by AL.com.
An older couple from Pelham, Ala., waited in line for nearly two hours only to have their phones die upon entering the stadium. Soaking wet, they stood in the concourse near Gate 2 before kickoff and didn’t know their seat numbers.
“This is the most disorganized I’ve ever seen and we were here for the FSU game,” said Jo, who only wanted to be identified by her first name. “Tickets on your phone is a terrible idea.”
Given that tickets even in the furthest reaches of the stadium were fetching record-breaking prices (get-in was a minimum of $1,700 for singles by mid-day Monday), the poor fan experience related to high security delays and mobile-only angst led to plenty of angry fans by the time action finally got underway. But at least it seems the worst fears going in failed to materialize in any real way.
In August, a preseason Atlanta Falcons game was one of several to suffer major mobile ticketing issues, leading to major lines and headaches for fans. All week, leading up to Monday’s championship game, reports surfaced about the tremendous difficulties some fans were experiencing related to the app-only ticketing system. Then, hours before game-time, ESPN reporter Darren Rovell tweeted that a last-minute update to the required app could lead to significant issues for those who hadn’t updated.
College Football Playoff added a mobile ticket update yesterday…this is a potential disaster tonight if people didn’t update with the fix. pic.twitter.com/bDqEHFMTsR
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) January 8, 2018
Thankfully, for those in attendance, that didn’t appear to turn into a major issue – unless we just haven’t seen it reported yet.