In August, Live Nation trumpeted that Penn State would be the first university to roll out its much-touted “Safetix” system in the fall of 2019 – but things haven’t gone nearly as smoothly as both sides may have hoped, it seems.
A mobile-only and dynamically-changing barcode system, “Safetix” is reportedly designed to both reduce the possibility of fraud. It also makes it impossible to freely sell or transfer tickets outside of the Ticketmaster ecosystem, has led to substantial fan headaches among a demographic thought to be the least susceptible to the known woes of digital-only tickets: College students.
Accustomed to the former student ticketing system that involved tying tickets to one’s student ID, Nittany Lions fans have complained that Safetix is causing far more trouble than it’s worth.
“It’s an old saying. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” senior Ryan Lam told WNEP.com after the first two games of the season. “I think using student IDs works. You just go and swipe it and most people have it with them but then with phones, the biggest problems come with the reception around the stadium.”
Students have reported long hold-ups at stadium entry, as fans at the second-largest facility in college football can’t access the digital system due to the overwhelming strain on the network caused by tens of thousands of fans trying to access dynamically changing tickets at the same time.
“Oh 100 percent, cell reception at Beaver Stadium is crap. I mean there’s hundreds of thousands of people in there on their phones,” said sophomore Lexy Leidlein.
Onward State – a blog covering Penn State Athletics – published more student accounts of the mobile ticketing process, which appears to have been mixed at best.
Your colorful accounts of resistance to change, temperamental technology, and frustrated ticketers encompassed plenty of emotions and did not disappoint. Words to describe the lines to get in range from “chaos” and “terrible” to “iffy at best” and “easy.”
Some selected responses from their survey:
When it was my turn to show my ticket, I showed the usher my phone (80% sure I was in the wrong place, but it didn’t matter because nothing would load). Immediately I could tell he was pissed. It was probably the 300th time this had happened. He just handed me a ticket and told me to move along.
It was about the same as other years, but I don’t know why they went digital. There weren’t any issues with just using your ID to swipe in. Also, Penn State should bring back the ticket exchange so students can buy/sell tickets and not be forced to just “transfer” tickets. It was also unnecessary to have to scan the barcode for our ticket and then have to present our IDs.
-Josh Peters, Senior
There was a large crowd trying to get into the section I got, and they were trying to check tickets, but the ushers basically gave up and just let anyone through. For the actual tickets on mobile, I needed to ask my friend who works at the IT Desk on campus. He said he had a few students during the week ask him for help. It still took us multiple tries to get it right.
It is likely that things will smooth out once the students and ticket-takers become more accustomed to the process of entry in the new ecosystem, but with most of the concerns related to mobile ticketing focusing on older fans and those of lower incomes who might be disproportionately disadvantage in a mobile-only ecosystem, it’s not a good sign when things go this haywire even among digital natives at a prestigious university, to say the least.
Photo: Students mass at the entry to a recent Penn State game – by Alex Bauer for Onward State