NEW ORLEANS – Paying $25 for a student ticket to the Final Four probably seemed like a deal to students whose schools advanced to the last weekend of competition in men’s college basketball, until they arrived at the venue, anyway.
Several students said the day-of-game ticketing process was a “riot” at about 8:30 a.m., adding that people were trampled and pushed over while grappling for position in line.
Students from each of the four institutions competing in the 2012 Final Four arrived throughout the early morning hours Saturday to obtain their tickets for the Kentucky-Louisville and Ohio State-Kansas national semifinal games at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans.
Jon Hicks, a second-year OSU student in human development and family services, attempted to position himself for a lower level ticket and arrived in line at about 7:30 a.m.
Hicks was one of 710 OSU students to buy a $25 ticket and was trying sit on the floor rather than the other half of his peers that sat in the upper bowl of the stadium. He said a riot broke out shortly after his arrival when after security guards told OSU, Kansas, Louisville and Kentucky students to leave the arena.
“Some cop came in and said, ‘You all have to leave,'” Hicks said. “We all went outside. We were there for five minutes. They said, ‘Go back in,’ and we went right back inside. A couple Kentucky girls got knocked over. It was bad. It was pretty intense.”
Ricky Voigt, an OSU second-year in human resources and pre-medicine, said that hundreds of people began running around in the Superdome parking garage where the four groups of students waiting for tickets.
Voigt said it was the closest he’s ever been to being in a riot situation, and likened the scene to that of a rock concert.
“People were jumping over barriers, climbing up the parking garage. Just running and screaming,” Voigt said. “There was really no security or personnel from the Superdome facilitating anything. It was sort of self-governed by the students.”
Voigt said that he did not see any students injured, however, Nick Nachbar, a freshman in microbiology at Kansas said he saw several female students trampled.
Nachbar, who described a process of waiting for hours for multiple wristbands in order to obtain access to Superdome floor seats, said people were pushed down and trampled in the rush to reposition after being told to leave the arena and then invited back inside.
The NCAA did not immediately respond to The Lantern’s request for comment regarding issues with the Saturday ticketing procedures.
“For the people in the middle trying to get up front, it was no-holds-bar,” Nachbar said. “Anything they had to do to get to the front of the line, they would do. It’s crazy.”