Student Association releases Fall Fest tickets early, apologizes for mistake
Students upset over rollout, SA removes guest tickets in response
Roughly 600 students reserved tickets to Fall Fest Wednesday during a two-hour unexpected ticket release, which left students confused and upset.
SA planned on releasing tickets Sunday for the Nov. 8 show, which will feature rappers DaBaby and Gunna in the 1,748-capacity Center for the Arts, according to SA President Yousouf Amolegbe. He said the tickets for the student-funded show –– which cost SA roughly $190,000 and is paid for by 21,000 undergraduates’ $109 mandatory student activity fee –– released early because SA Entertainment didn’t confirm the updated release date with the UB Ticket Office.
The office thought tickets were still set for release on Wednesday, Amolegbe said, causing them to release unexpectedly at 10 a.m.
SA then paused the release at roughly 12:30 p.m. and let students who reserved tickets keep them. It announced on social media at 3:30 p.m. that remaining tickets would release at 5 p.m.
Tickets sold out in roughly five minutes during the release, according to Amolegbe.
On Saturday, SA then released the show’s 500 guest tickets as student tickets, meaning there are no guest tickets for the show, an idea SA said came from an upset student. The Saturday release, scheduled for 1 p.m., didn’t begin until 1:28 p.m. because of complications at the ticket office, according to SA. Tickets sold out at 1:47 p.m.
While the ticket release also came with “long” wait times, according to students who were on the University Tickets site, most students were upset with SA’s announcement rollout. Students complained on Twitter about the accidental release, the hour-and-a-half notice before the first-announced release and the announcement soley being social media platforms. Amolegbe and Chief of Staff Eric Rooney said they considered some of the student feedback bullying and hate speech and claimed some Instagram comments were homphobic and derogatory. SA then disabled comments on its Instagram posts in response.
“We are very sorry,” Amolegbe said. “This is the first time [tickets have released unexpectedly] and we can promise this is going to be the last time this will happen. We also want to show that we care about concerns.”
Amolegbe said SA announced the Wednesday ticket release an hour and a half in advance because the ticket office didn’t want to push off the reservations any longer. He said SA’s graphic artists needed time to create an announcement graphic, resulting in the hour-and-a-half notice before the release.
Mitchell Cappiello, a senior psychology major, said Thursday that he has been to six fests during his time at UB and has “always” secured tickets. He said SA “should’ve known better” when it announced the release at 3:30 p.m.
“I’d say whoever is in charge of doing this for SA should be ashamed of not following a tradition [of announcing earlier] that, even though it had its own issues to begin with, was at least more practical in giving everybody a chance to get a ticket,” Cappiello said.
He says he’s seen same-day ticket drops with local shows before but those are warranted.
“It seems more honorable on their part to at least give a wider array of the undergraduate student body that pays those fees a bit more of a fair shot to gain access to those tickets,” Cappiello said. “All love to the people who are going to get a chance to catch Gunna and DaBaby at the show, but as a person who would’ve loved to see these artists’ energy in person, I’m deeply disappointed in SA today.”
Jared Moser, a sophomore public health major, was at work when tickets officially dropped on Wednesday at 5 p.m.
“I thought SA did a terrible job with communication,” Moser said. “… By the time I saw the announcement for when they would be released, they were already sold out.”
Moser said if he had known the release time earlier, preferably 24 hours in advance, he would’ve planned his break at work around the release.
Local concert promoters say an hour and a half is not enough time to prepare audiences for a show that may sell out.
Donny Kutzbach, a co-owner/operator of Town Ballroom and Funtime Presents and UB alum, wrote that anywhere from “a week to a minimum of two days” is standard for an on-sale announcement. He said Town Ballroom occasionally has same-day sales, but those are for shows he doesn’t expect to sell out. Chris Ring of After Dark Entertainment agrees, saying he gives “at least 24 hours” notice before tickets go on sale.
“It seems like SA failed its constituents in this case,” Kutzback wrote in an email.
Abby Kolstee, a freshman biomedical sciences major, said she found out about the Wednesday drop “last minute” when her friend texted her.
While she follows SA on Instagram and Twitter, she didn’t see the update and didn’t think the 3:30 p.m. announcement gave her enough time to prepare. Only one of her friends was able to secure a ticket.
“My friends and I wanted to have a fun experience together and now my friend has to sell his ticket or find other people that were lucky enough to get tickets,” Kolstee said.
Last year, SA’s student-wide emails, which the SA president sends out once a month, included ticket reservation information for the two most popular of the three Fall Fest Concert Series shows. Amolegbe said his student-wide email didn’t match up with the time SA anticipated tickets to go on sale for the show, making social media promotion SA’s priority.
“I would love to know what the best way students feel we can get through to them is,” Amolegbe said.
The show is a part of SA’s 2019 Fall Fest Concert Series, which consists of three genre-specific concerts instead of the standard single show, a format SA first implemented in 2018.
Kutzback wrote that the “bigger failure” is hosting the show in the Center for the Arts and offering it to 1,748 students when 21,000 students pay the mandatory activity fee. Since the ticket releases, Change.org user Ali Khalil started a petition for the Student Association to move the show to Alumni Arena, which has a larger capacity. Ali’s petition currently has 296 signatures.
But Amolegbe says the three-show format gives students greater genre diversity than before, and that fans of rock music or Afro-Caribbean music can finally see the genres represented in the shows. He insists that there isn’t a venue to fit every student on campus, and that it’s important to give students more options, as the CFA allows more shows because of its lower production cost.
Both Amolegbe and Rooney said they appreciate student input on the ticket release.
“The main thing to take away from this is that although we did mess up, we are learning from this experience,” Rooney said.
Brenton J. Blanchet is the Editor-in-Chief and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @BrentonBlanchet.