Ohio State apologizes for slow digital ticket scanners that created havoc entering Horsehoe

Mark Williams
Redcoat Jack Fry tries to keep the crowd back at Ohio Stadium's student section gates as the crowd tries to enter the game. It was the first year using new digital ticket scanners, which caused long lines and delays for fans trying to enter.

Slow digital ticket scanners — used for the first time at Ohio Stadium on Saturday for most fans after a student test-run in 2019 — led to a crush of fans struggling to get in the Horseshoe at two gates that was so bad that police had to intervene.

It also was the first time that the stadium was full of fans in two years as the No. 3 Buckeyes played the No, 12 Oregon Ducks in one of college football's biggest matchups of the day. 

Thousands of fans had a hard time getting in because of the ticket scanners used by gatekeepers to scan cellphones holding the tickets. One usher said he had never seen fans so angry and upset. 

Video shows fans pushing into gates 36 and 38 on the south side of Ohio Stadium holding up their cellphones to show they have tickets for the game. The gates were so jammed with people and there was so much chaos, that police had to intervene. 

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Colton Henson from Ashville in Pickaway County missed most of the first quarter.

"It was a disappointment to be sure," Henson said. "I think the biggest thing is that it's a game-day experience and when you pay — tickets have never been more expensive — and there's an expectation, and regardless of what happens on the field, you've got to get people in and out of your facilities."

Ohio State issued a statement in the fourth quarter of the game apologizing for the problems.

"The Ohio State Department of Athletics thanks the 100,482 fans who attended the season opener today against Oregon. Today was a landmark day, with digital tickets and mobile parking passes," the statement said. "We want to apologize to those who experienced delays entering the stadium that were caused by a number of reasons, including a technical issue with wi-fi and learning curves with new technologies and new systems. We did reach a point where we allowed fans in line to bypass the scanner and show their tickets to gain entry.  

"We will learn from today, make improvements and we anticipate next week will be better."

There were lengthy lines outside those gates long before the game started, but the situation got worse as it got closer and closer to the noon game start and the lines continued to move slowly.

A false report circulated among some in the crowd that the Buckeyes had scored a touchdown led to fans pushing even harder to get inside.

Video shows some fans being allowed in without having their ticket scanned. They held up their cellphones to ushers, who looked at them, nodded and then let them in.

The digital scanners are new this year for most fans, along with other technology updates that included cashless concessions and scanners for parking garages that also had problems.

Two Oregon fans standing outside the stadium before the game had trouble getting their tickets loaded onto their phone and the scanner wouldn't read the parking pass that fans and others had for a particular campus garage even though it was the correct garage.

 Ohio State did a test-run with scanners for students two years ago, the last year when fans were allowed in the stadium before COVID-19 struck.

Some fans slammed Ohio State on social media Saturday with one fan tweeting: "Epic failure getting fans in the @ohiostadium."

Watch the mayhem unfold at the Ohio Stadium gate 

mawilliams@dispatch.com

@BizMarkWilliams

Lori Schmidt contributed to this report. 

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