Jeff Maples talks about UT's new game day ticket-scalping policy
Scalpers with extra tickets to sell at next week's home opener against Georgia State will have to do so away from Neyland Stadium — or at least across the street.
The University of Tennessee announced a new policy Thursday banning the sale of tickets or anything else on the sidewalks outside of the stadium and Thompson-Boling Arena. It's a rule that will be in place four hours before the start time through the end of the game, concert or other event.
"We're not saying you can't sell tickets, we're just restricting it in a small area here at the football stadium and the arena" said Jeff Maples, associate vice chancellor for finance and administration. "The rest of the campus is still open to sell tickets if people have some to sell.
"It's just this sidewalk has so much activity going on with the ticket window, customer services, the buses coming in and out, and we have people with disabilities. We just want to keep this area as open as possible."
Besides easing car and pedestrian traffic in front of the venues, according to UT, the policy is meant to protect the university's ability to sell tickets at its windows and offer some relief to fans who are just not interested.
During football games, no ticket sales will be allowed in the Gate 21 Plaza and along the east side of Phillip Fulmer Way from Middle Way Drive to Gate 10. During basketball games, the sales restriction includes Phillip Fulmer Way from Tee Martin Drive to Lake Loudoun Boulevard in front of the arena.
Those who don't comply would be asked to move, but if that's not enough, they could face a citation, said Maples.
"We're not trying to strong-arm people. When we see people trying to sell tickets here we will ask them kindly to move from the restricted area, and I think by and large people will comply with that request," Maples said.
Chris Peterson, 43, has purchased his tickets in front of Neyland Stadium since he graduated in 1992 and could no longer use student tickets. Peterson, who now lives in Denver but catches games when he's in town, said he isn't sure how the school will be able to stop so many sellers in a such congested area — or why they should have to.
"If someone wants to buy a ticket and someone wants to sell it, what's the detriment of that happening in front of Neyland?" Peterson said, adding that he's also concerned UT will expand the restricted area in coming years. "The only concern they could have is if tickets on the street sold for less than face value, and then , let's face it, it's because the product on the field is so bad they can't even get $50. Make the product on the field better and you're going to sell all your tickets."
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Of course, not all the fans buying scalped tickets are dressed in orange, which irritates longtime season ticketholder Don McCown, who has attended UT games for 60 years and has seats on the 50-yard line.
"I bleed Big Orange, I pay for the right to buy those tickets, and it irritates me when even people I know, who have been grandfathered in (to season tickets), never go to a game," he said. "Yet, they buy the tickets and then sell them. I end up in primo seats with opponents sitting all around us."
Other fans are sympathetic to the university's point of view, including Tyler Freshour, 38,who has sold extra tickets in front of the stadium before.
"Imagine if someone outside Kroger on the sidewalk was selling vegetables. I have no problem with (UT) putting that rule in," said Freshour, who has attended games for three decades. "You got a lot of people there on a little sidewalk, and when you get a scalper, you've got people stopping and talking and looking, and you have a traffic jam of sorts."
Still, it's likely to be run-of-the-mill fans who will be most affected by the new rules, said Clark Moore, owner of www.selectticketservice.com, a ticket brokerage company based in Knoxville.
Moore said he does most of his business online, and when he does come to Knoxville for a game day, he usually operates elsewhere on campus or downtown.
"It's going to affect the common fan more than anyone because they walk through the door and then hold up tickets," Moore said. "But people in the business know it's better to be further out."