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Hundreds of students left out of UNCC’s first football game

49ERS_STADIUM_10
Jeff Siner - jsiner@charlotteobserver.com
The Charlotte 49ers football team held their first practice at McColl-Richardson Field on Wednesday, October 31, 2012. In the background is The Judy W. Rose Football Center.

The Charlotte 49ers’ inaugural college football game on Saturday has turned into one of the hottest tickets around.

The game at 15,314-seat Richardson Stadium against Campbell University is sold out, with tickets on the online service StubHub.com advertised for as much as $200.

But hundreds of students who had hoped to attend the history-making game – and who are paying increased student fees to help pay for the stadium – won’t be there.

Nearly half (7,500) of game tickets are allotted to students, but 8,300 had requested them. A lottery was required to determine who would receive tickets, leaving about 800 disappointed students on the outside of the stadium looking in – or at least watching the game on television (WCCB, Channel 18).

“We know the students who got tickets are excited and the ones who didn’t are unhappy,” said school spokesman Tom Whitestone. “But there are just no more tickets.”

The rest of the stadium’s seating is divided among season-ticket and permanent-seat license holders (6,800) and about 1,000 for players’ families, the opposing team’s fans, recruits, sponsors and high school coaches.

All those seats are expected to be filled Saturday too, Whitestone said.

“We are at our breaking point,” he said.

Whitestone said the school will not distribute standing-room-only tickets to students who didn’t have their names drawn in the lottery. Temporary stands are also not planned for this season in Richardson Stadium, which will likely be expanded to 40,000 seats by 2015, when the 49ers move to Conference USA in college football’s highest classification.

The student lottery, which also will be used for the 49ers’ remaining five home games, is open to all of UNCC’s 26,274 students.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re a freshman, a part-time student, or a senior who has been to every other sports game ever here,” said Libby Weihsmann, sports editor of the Niner Times, the school’s newspaper.

Students who didn’t win the lottery made their feelings known on Facebook, Twitter and school message boards.

Among the tweets:

• Someone give me their football ticket and I’ll do your laundry for a week #desprate

• This UNCC Football ticketing is more serious than “Willy Wonkas Golden Ticket” smh lol

Senior Chris Summey, who didn’t get a ticket, said he has been paying increased student fees since 2011.

“It probably should have been weighted more toward the seniors, who have been helping pay for the stadium and the football program for a few years,” said Summey, who spent Tuesday night watching the 49ers women’s soccer team play against Gardner-Webb at Transamerica Field. “That doesn’t seem fair to me.”

Ryan Benson, a senior from Clayton, has attended dozens of 49ers athletic events during his time at UNCC and was looking forward to going to the school’s first-ever football game.

“I’m not frustrated so much that I’m a senior and some freshmen might have been able to go instead of me,” said Benson. “It’s just that I’ve been to a lot of events here and I’m not getting rewarded for the time that I’ve put in.”

Benson and others who were shut out will get another chance Thursday, when a second lottery for 100 more tickets will be held. Also, students may wait in a stand-by line before the game Saturday if some student tickets go unused.

There will be a viewing party at the Student Union with a big-screen TV for the noon Saturday game. Staff writer Cleve R. Wootson Jr. contributed.

Scott: 704-358-5889; Twitter: @davidscott14
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