Since Oklahoma State’s All Sports Pass – a student ticket for yearlong entry to all sporting events – switched to virtual tickets in the fall of 2019, the OSU ticket office has been faced with a pressing issue.
How to stop students from selling their tickets?
This spring, the ticket office introduced a solution.
In an email to OSU students, it was announced that the All Sports Pass was moving to SafeTix, a ticket service focused on preventing ticket fraud through new technology.
“We just don’t want anyone taking advantage of the situation at the expense of someone else,” said Payton Phillips, director of strategic marketing and ticket sales since 2019.
SafeTix is different from the previous method mostly because of the barcode. In the past, students would have a virtual ticket with a square barcode that remained the same from download through game day.
The barcode on the new passes will change constantly.
At issue was the ease in which students could simply screenshot their ticket and send it to somebody else for entry into games. Sell it to somebody else. Anyone else, too, including fans of opponents.
At a deep discount – the athletic department values the pass as worth more than $1,000 – the ticket office deemed transferring tickets as going against spirit of the agreement.
“You’re not supposed to be able to do that,” athletic director Mike Holder said.
With SafeTix, students won’t be able to sell or transfer tickets.
The SafeTix barcodes change every few seconds, so a barcode that was valid five seconds ago won’t work anymore. Once the ticket is downloaded to your wallet, the only way for the barcode to reappear is by getting close to a scanner.
No more screenshot selling or transferring.
“It's an extremely discounted ticket,” said Andy Sumrall, director of fan service and ticket operations. “If you were to buy the cheapest season ticket for all the sports that you get as an All Sports Pass holder, I believe it comes out to about $1700-$1800, and students are getting that same thing for $250.”
Because the price of the All Sports Pass is significantly marked down for students, the athletics office felt it wasn’t right for some students to take advantage of that by sometimes making money back, and in a few cases, even flipping the tickets for a profit.
During football and basketball season, prices were as high as $300 for a single ticket. That would pay for the annual price of the pass, and that’s just one game.
“We need to make sure that students aren’t taking advantage of that discount, because the student has gotten an opportunity to buy it at a steeply discounted price relative to market value, so they get a chance to profit a lot,” Phillips said.
Another concern was that some students weren’t being treated fairly, wishing to purchase a pass to attend games, only to be see the passes “sell out,” while students claiming tickets had no intention of going to games, but in selling them.
Those in the ticket office didn’t like that.
“Now you’re stuck either not coming or buying from basically a broker at that point,” Phillips said.
While trying to fix the problem, the department even sought help from students.
“We have worked with a lot of them closely and received their feedback. That has been helpful,” Phillips said.
Still, not all feedback was positive.
Whether it be through social media or email, some criticism for the new system arose. Some thought the old system worked well, especially when it came to making sure someone filled their seat. Everyone – students, players and coaches – want to have a full student section, and one concern is that the new system could limit that at times.
“I understand why they’re doing it, I just think it makes it more difficult on students,” said Lizzi Neal, an OSU student. “I know they want students to be more honest, but I think with having limited capacity, our concern should be filling those student sections and having students there to support our sports teams.”
The Grand Canyon baseball series was the first time SafeTix was used, and for Sumrall the transition was mostly smooth.
The point of this switch was to stop halt fraud from happening within the student body, and the ticket office message to the backlash is simple: it’s about protecting students.
“The All Sports Pass is for students, it’s not for anybody else to get in and sit in the student section,” Sumrall said. “It’s a special rate for you coming to Oklahoma State. It’s our way of saying thanks for coming to OSU and helping build the atmosphere.”