Ohio State officials announce changes to help avoid digital ticketing issues on gameday
After issues with digital ticketing scanners and mobile parking passes at Saturday's Ohio State football game, the university has announced it is taking a number of steps to ensure the process goes smoother at this weekend's matchup against Tulsa.
Delays were attributed to WiFi connectivity, staffing numbers and the learning curve with the new ticket pedestals.
Officials said they're adding more engineering support on site from the department's WiFi partner to monitor and manage connections while beefing up staffing and the number of scanners at the stadium, according to a press release sent out Wednesday morning.
An additional 27 staff members will be on hand to run an additional 27 pedestal scanners at gates that experienced the heaviest traffic. That means 147 scanners will now be set up around Ohio Stadium.
Saturday's game — a loss to the Oregon Ducks — marked the first game in the venue in 657 days, as well as the first time digital ticketing scanners were used for the majority of the 100,000-plus crowd. (The school did a test-run with the scanners and students in 2019.)
Some fans, especially those in the student section in the South Stands, had to wait upwards of an hour to get into the stadium, causing them to miss much of the first quarter. The chaos surrounding gates 36-38 before the game caused law enforcement to intervene.
The university apologized for those delays and is confident this coming Saturday will run smoother, said Mike Penner, executive associate athletic director for internal operations.
"We are one of the largest stadiums in the country to take on digital ticketing," Penner said. "It's becoming more of an industry standard. This was just our first time doing it."
He said they underestimated how much of the operation was impacted by the WiFi and that the stadium was operating with less WiFi than in 2019, which they are working to fix before the next game.
Another key area Penner said the athletic department wanted to address was the procedure for students entering the South Stands. To do this, they will increase the number of metal detectors at those South Stands gates as well as police officers and stadium security available at that location. It has revised the layout for scanning and entry there, too.
"We will have more entrances into the stadium and increase metal detectors and pedestals to get students in quicker," Penner said.
Fans took to social media following the game to complain about missing kickoffs and scanners not scanning.
Twitter user @brewrandall wrote: "It was horrible on the even number gates 35-40 minutes to get in with a bunch of people ditching."
They also commented on concession-stand lines and wait times, which some saw as an even greater issue than digital ticketing.
"What about concessions?" wrote Twitter user @falconbuckeye. "They were horrible on C Deck. Many stands lacked proper staffing. Also, the lack of WiFi didn’t allow for proper use of the mobile ordering. Which was also shut down early in the game."
Ohio State officials said they would address those concerns, too, with more staffing at concession stands and hard-wiring registers to better accommodate mobile ordering.
There are specific steps fans attending the 3:30 p.m. kickoff against the Golden Hurricane this Saturday — there are still around 12,000 tickets available — can take to ease entrance issues.
Those include adding digital tickets to mobile wallets so WiFi isn't needed to access them and having those tickets up before reaching the pedestal, Penner said. The Ohio State Buckeyes app is also a way to manage tickets.
Penner said that 66% of fans that attended the game against Oregon had their tickets in a digital wallet and those patrons experienced fewer issues.
If people are having trouble with the digital versions, they can visit a troubleshooting booth at gate 5, 11 or 14; at the North Rotunda or behind the South Stands. A paper ticket can be printed there as well.
For those without mobile devices, they can pick up printed tickets at the Schottenstein Center starting Thursday. Then, they can enter at one of the troubleshooting booths.
Perhaps, the most important piece for fans is to arrive early, especially given the construction around campus.
Penner said: "We're encouraging fans to arrive to campus early — just a little earlier than they might be used to."