PHOTO COURTESY OF MINNESOTA TWINS • The Johnnies and Tommies are set to play at Target Field. The ticket sales left many students frustrated and confused.
By Brett Zallek
St. John’s and St. Thomas are set to shatter the Division III football attendance record on Saturday, Sept. 23 when their rivalry will be the first football game ever played at Target Field in Minneapolis. The Minnesota Twins reported on Sept. 20 that 33,000 tickets had already been sold. The current DIII record stands at 17,535.
While tickets for the game went on sale for the general public last December, both St. Thomas and St. John’s were given a set number of tickets to reserve for their current students. Both schools then were responsible for the sales and distribution of the student section tickets on campus. SJU was given 2,297 student tickets which were all sold out as of Sept. 19.
But not all students are
happy about how things went.
Johnnie/Tommie games always come with huge anticipation, and this year’s new venue and likely record-breaking attendance created even more hype; with a bigger venue comes bigger problems.
On Sept. 6, all CSB/SJU students received an email detailing when and how they would be able to purchase their tickets. The email included the line, “One CSB/SJU student can purchase as many tickets at one time to make sure all of his/her friends sit together for the assigned seating.” The assigned seating was a requirement of Target Field.
On Sept. 7, seniors Molly Cashman, Andrea Loftus and Tommy Stanton decided to take matters into their own hands. They talked to other seniors to see if students would be interested in buying tickets all at once to form one big section of seniors. They quickly found that their peers were supportive of the idea.
The trio proceeded to create a Facebook group detailing their plan: everyone interested in being part of the large section and not having to wait in line to pick up their own ticket would pay Stanton via Venmo. Loftus would then arrange everyone into their respective groups and seats in an Excel file. The three said their intent was to have a section of seniors together for their last Johnnie/Tommie game as students. They were not going to make any profit off of other students’ payments.
“We just wanted everyone to be friends and be together for our last game,” Loftus said.
The three debated on whether or not to inform the institution of their plan prior to purchasing the tickets, but ended up deciding to.
“We thought, ‘let’s be transparent, let’s not have something backfire for either [side],’” Cashman said. They called Nicci Malecha, SJU Athletic Department Coordinator.
“[Malecha] confirmed that we could do it,” Stanton said.
After approval from the Athletic Department, the trio’s Facebook group exploded. By Monday, Sept. 11 they had over 400 students on board with the plan and Stanton had $4,000 in his Venmo account.
They met again with the administration on Tuesday, Sept. 12 and were informed the rules were changing; their plan was being shut down. On Tuesday afternoon, another email was sent to the student body with an amendment: each student would only be able to purchase up to 10 tickets.
The decision had been made collaboratively between the Athletic Department and administration. The three seniors quickly had to backtrack, posting updates to their Facebook group and apologizing for the confusion and refunding the money via Venmo.
Malecha declined to comment on the situation with the three seniors. She did talk about the ticket distribution as a whole.
“It’s not like it was just thrown together—there was months’ worth of planning when it came down to this,” Malecha said. “We came together to determine the best way to get tickets out to students.”
She also noted that SJU does not have an online ticketing system and “pretty poor” internet to handle such a huge amount of information at once. Throughout the ticketing process, student workers handwrote thousands of names, ID numbers and seat assignments to later be transferred to an Excel file.
Two days prior to tickets going on sale, Vice President for Student Development Fr. Doug Mullin sent an email to the student body to put rumors to bed. He also assured “There will be enough tickets for all CSB/SJU students who wish to attend the game.”
Stanton said that the Athletic Department changed the rules for them several times, including when they got to the box office after waiting in line since 4 a.m.
“They basically changed the rules at the last minute,” Stanton said. “I’d say they changed the rules at least six or seven times—it was ridiculous.”
After dozens of hours organizing and meeting with people, the trio had nothing to show for their work and were noticeably upset.
“I just think it was embarrassing for the school to handle it the way they did,” Stanton said. “They disrespected us on multiple occasions, and we were just trying to do something good and they literally would try to spite us in any way possible that they could find.”
But the rule change didn’t just affect them; it affected hundreds of students who were on board.
“I just felt so bad for the senior class,” Cashman said. “They had been counting on us to get their tickets and we reassured them we contacted the school. I just really felt bad and didn’t want to let people down.”
As for future matchups, St. John’s will not be looking off-site.
“We won’t be taking any of our games off campus,” Malecha said. “We really enjoy having all of our home athletic events here.”
She went on to say she would not be surprised if St. Thomas looks to play off-site again in the future.
“They want to get people to their games as well—they don’t want to turn people away,” Malecha said.
Malecha said that all 2,297 student tickets for CSB and SJU students were sold out from the three days of sales, Sept. 17-19.
SJU will kick off against the Tommies at 1 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 23 at Target Field in Minneapolis.