Queen’s sporting chance

As reunion returns to Richardson, student demand fuels increased ticket distribution

Ten varsity teams will play at home this weekend, while nearly 5,000 student tickets were distributed for the football game.
Ten varsity teams will play at home this weekend, while nearly 5,000 student tickets were distributed for the football game.
Photo: 
Jaril Valenciano brought a tricolour tent to camp for student football tickets inside the Queen’s Centre on Monday night.
Jaril Valenciano brought a tricolour tent to camp for student football tickets inside the Queen’s Centre on Monday night.
Photo: 
Just before 6 a.m. on Monday, the student football ticket line curled around the Queen’s Centre lobby and ascended the Common Ground staircase.
Just before 6 a.m. on Monday, the student football ticket line curled around the Queen’s Centre lobby and ascended the Common Ground staircase.
Photo: 

Five years and one week since Queen’s last reunion game, Richardson Stadium will once again be full for Homecoming.

Student and alumni tickets for tomorrow’s football game against the Laurier Golden Hawks sold out earlier this week, while only a smattering of field seating remains for the Gaels’ Oct. 19 matchup with the Guelph Gryphons.

Roughly 9,000 tickets were distributed for the first Homecoming tilt — a higher total than originally anticipated, given an unforeseen surge in student demand.

Queen’s Athletics doled out 4,000 free student tickets to the Laurier game early Monday morning, exhausting the supply in less than two hours. By 3 p.m., they had decided to release an extra batch the following day.

According to Jeff Downie, associate director of Athletics, Business Development and Facilities, the decision to initially allot 4,000 student tickets was based on a conservative estimate of Richardson Stadium’s capacity.

“We went back, revisited that, came up with some more tickets and that’s what we handed out [Tuesday], to meet some more demand,” Downie said.

Between 700 and 800 extra student tickets were released on Tuesday morning for both Homecoming games. While distribution started at 6 a.m., the clamour for seats began much earlier.

Jaril Valenciano, Comm ’14, lined up outside the ARC customer service desk around 9 p.m. Monday night and was soon joined by a gathering of fellow ticket-seekers.

The line eventually moved outside the Queen’s Centre and continued to grow throughout the night. By early Tuesday, it had curled around the corner of Earl and Division Streets and nearly reached Union St.

While the second release was targeted to satisfy increased demand, students that received tickets to one game on Monday weren’t allowed to exchange them to access the other game.

This restriction was in line with Athletics’ decision to initially limit students to one game or the other, before opening access to the Oct. 19 contest a few days before.

“We never made it to that point, because [the tickets] disappeared in two seconds,” Downie said.

By distributing just under 5,000 student tickets per game, Queen’s is virtually assured of two full crowds — but Downie said Richardson Stadium’s capacity still wouldn’t be exceeded.

This summer, Richardson’s upper student and alumni bleachers were deemed unsafe for use, and temporary stands were installed to recoup some of the lost seating.

These developments brought Richardson’s capacity down from 10,258 to roughly 8,200, according to Downie. Still, all 9,000 or so potential attendees will still be admitted to tomorrow’s game.

“We have not exceeded that capacity,” Downie said. “We just exceeded our original plan, which was probably more on the conservative side — not understanding that demand.”

With thousands of free student tickets distributed, some have began to circulate on the open market.

Various students took to Facebook on Monday advertising their vouchers, with some asking for payment in the range of $80-100.

While Downie said Athletics doesn’t approve of such practices, monitoring scalpers is out of their control.

“We’re really, genuinely interested in making sure students get access to the game and can come out and have a good time — and do that with a free ticket,” he said. “People who are scalping them and adding dollars to them, that’s not really in line with what we’re trying to do.”

While students and visitors left without a football ticket can watch the game in a number of locations — including the Queen’s Pub, Common Ground Coffeehouse and Fanatics — Athletics is also attempting to promote the rest of its varsity roster.

Ten varsity teams and clubs will play at home this weekend, including regular season rugby and soccer games, pre-season basketball tilts and a field hockey tournament on Tindall Field.

It’s a complete divergence from previous Homecomings, when Athletics would request away games due to logistical concerns. Just like Queen’s temporarily estranged alumni, the Gaels’ non-football squads are now coming home.

“I think [sports] plays a very critical role in both weekends now — providing entertainment and an opportunity for gatherings by alumni and students,” Downie said.

Alongside official games, several teams have planned events for alumni, including a 12-hour Saturday swim relay and a 3-on-3 men’s basketball alum tournament.

Athletics has also acknowledged Homecoming’s long absence by organizing alumni tours of the ARC, which opened in January 2010 — 14 months after the reunion weekend was initially cancelled.

“We think there’s going to be great interest in touring around and seeing the facilities we’ve built here,” Downie said.

“We’ve got a big weekend ahead.”

When commenting, be considerate and respectful of writers and fellow commenters. Try to stay on topic. Spam and comments that are hateful or discriminatory will be deleted. Our full commenting policy can be read here.