Nearly 500 football season ticket holder accounts were cancelled by Penn State University’s athletics staff, reportedly over its belief that those consumers had resold their tickets too frequently. The account-holders deemed to be ticket brokers were informed of their no longer having the right to renew their tickets in late January as the University’s renewal process for the 2022 season got underway.
The culling of accounts was reportedly made possible by the leveraging of Ticketmaster’s mobile-only ticketing system, which requires users to use, sell, or transfer tickets exclusively through a locked application which requires extensive permissions for the harvesting of user data. “…[W]e did an analysis of our inventory and servicing needs and are making an intentional effort to connect directly with our consumers by removing accounts whose primary purpose for purchasing is reselling their tickets,” reads the email sent to impacted account-holders.
Penn State began using Ticketmaster’s “Safetix” system in the fall of 2019, which employs a “dynamic” barcode to remove the ability to do anything with tickets purchased without the express involvement of the ticketing app. Fans have widely panned the shift, which has led to major issues at stadium entry, even for tech-saavy students. Just over two years later – including one year where no fans were allowed in its home stadium but season ticket holders were still required to make costly donations to maintain their accounts – the school has made its move against those it felt was selling too frequently, or for too much money.
According to a Penn State official who spoke to StateCollege.com on the matter, the data available on all users through Ticketmaster’s system allowed for the tracking of who was selling what tickets for what games, and at what price. Those who regularly sold tickets for higher than face value were tagged for non-renewal. “We’re just running our business,” the official said, adding that season ticket holders who resell tickets to friends or family or even the general public were not targeted in the effort. The official was also confident that any fans who had purchased tickets but opted not to attend games due to COVID-19 were also not impacted, according to StateCollege.com.
Frequently, such culls of what are believed to be ticket broker accounts involve the forfeiture of accounts by many non-brokers. Like one family who sold most of their Denver Broncos tickets in the wake of having a child, only to find out they had been flagged as a broker and had their season account terminated. We sent an email to Penn State Associate Athletic Director, Ticketing Sales and Service Rob Kristiniak asking what the threshold was for how much resale was too much in their decision-making process, but have not received a response as of Friday morning.
It is also possible that such a cull is tied to the rights-holder deciding it wants more direct control over its ticket resale market, rather than any effort to actually make tickets more available to fans at “face value.” This famously occured with the Los Angeles Dodgers, who cancelled season ticket accounts estimated at one third to nearly a half of the seats at their home stadium in order to partner with one ticket resale partner and maximize that revenue. No announcement has been made by Penn State to that effect, but it is a common practice and would likely be disclosed at some point if true given that it is a public university.
TicketNews will update this story with additional information from Penn State if a response is received.
(Main photo: Fans at a 2018 game at Penn State’s Beaver Stadium, uploaded by user StateLionPro to Wikimedia Commons)