We could have seen this coming. Just 11 days before No. 2 Kentucky takes on No. 4 Duke in the Champions Classic at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Duke is notifying select fans that their orders would NOT be fulfilled and they will be refunded.
The email looks a little something like this:
I called Duke to get the details. I was told that Duke (in all ticketing situations) will take as many orders they can to make sure their allotment is full, and if the allotment is met and there’s a surplus they go to Iron Duke priority points (K Fund points, basically). Obviously Kentucky fans aren’t going to have Iron Duke priority points, so the tickets purchased by non-Iron Duke priority members were refunded. I was told that fans that had their orders cancelled would be put on a waiting list and could potentially end up with tickets in the Duke section, but they wouldn’t find out until Tuesday, a WEEK before the game. The woman I spoke with basically said those on the waitlist shouldn’t hold their breath as they likely won’t be getting tickets. I did find it funny that before asking for a name for the order they asked for the mailing address. I asked if the Kentucky address had anything to do with orders being cancelled and she said that it didn’t and that’s how they organize their orders. Maybe, but it seems like a lot of Kentuckians are receiving those emails today.
The entire Champions Classic ticketing system is broken and needs to be fixed. Schools have separate release dates. You buy through a school and they clearly aren’t guaranteed. I understand Kansas, MSU and Duke won’t want hoards of UK fans in their sections, but the non-guaranteed ticketing model isn’t fair for fans regardless of who they root for or where they’re from.
But my biggest issue is with the Champions Classic, not Duke or the schools. Tickets to the general public didn’t go on sale until 29 days before the event. Hotel rooms in Indy were nearly all booked by the time tickets went on sale. How is someone supposed to plan a trip to a game when they’re unsure if they will have tickets? Once the tickets are on sale they sellout in 5-10 minutes, which tells me they aren’t putting too many tickets on sale to the general public. Assuming each school is given around 2,000 or 3,000 tickets that doesn’t leave too many for the general public. Then you take into consideration all the tickets that go to corporate sponsors and you realize odds are you won’t be able to buy a ticket for face value.
I’m being told that Michigan State did uphold their end of the deal and they have already mailed out their tickets. Good. I know a lot of UK fans went through MSU for tickets, too.
Meanwhile, CBS Sports Classic tickets for the game in late December vs. UNC have already been mailed out to fans. The Champions Classic could learn a thing or two from the ticketing system of the CBS Sports Classic.