‘Angst’ for some UGA fans navigating mobile-only ticketing for national title game

Fans cheer as they wait for the Georgia team bus to arrive at the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Rose Bowl Game on Monday, January 1, 2018, in Pasadena. (Bob Andres/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP) Fans cheer as they wait for the Georgia team bus to arrive at the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Rose Bowl Game on Monday, January 1, 2018, in Pasadena. (Bob Andres/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)

Still looking to go to Monday’s college football national championship game in Atlanta?


If you went to StubHub on Friday morning, tickets for the Georgia-Alabama clash started at $1,238 each.

Some Bulldog season ticket holders who were able to purchase tickets directly from the school’s allotment of 20,000 had to endure long waits this week and work through a mobile-only ticket distribution process that left some frustrated.

“I had terrible problems,” Scott Center, who owns an interior design furnishings firm based out of Savannah, said Thursday afternoon. “I was getting pretty darn desperate.”

Center said he got an email Wednesday asking him to click on a link and set up a new password to get his tickets. He did that on Thursday morning, but when he didn’t get any response back, he called a customer service number listed and got a recording. He then called the Georgia ticket office, which he said was helpful, but he was directed to call on another number. A message on that phone number informed him there would be a 45-minute wait time, but it turned out to be much longer.

After three hours total on hold, Center said an email popped up about resetting his password, but when he clicked, it told him that the password had expired. He asked for another reset and this time it worked and he finally got his pair of tickets electronically on a mobile app.

“I was able to get the tickets on the phone, but it took me four hours to do it,” said Center, a Georgia donor for 39 years. “I never got picked up on the phone.”

Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity said the athletic ticket office has been busy trying to help fans in what’s the first year of a “paperless ticket” system. It’s the first major championship sporting event in the U.S. where most fans can’t use paper tickets, according to USA Today.

Ticketmaster is the official partner for the College Football championship game.

“There’s a lot of questions that our ticket office has been answering into how to actually utilize the app, which is processed by the CFP,” McGarity said. “It’s all new. There’s some challenges there, but our ticket office staff has been on the line almost non-stop helping our fans navigate that process.”

And it’s not just Georgia fans.

“Our ticket office, they’ve been in touch with Alabama,” McGarity said. “Alabama is experiencing the same concerns we are as well. There’s not a lot of turnaround time. … When you’ve got tens of thousands of fans wanting to navigate this process, it creates questions.”

McGarity said the process is controlled by the College Football Playoff.

“It’s just different,” he said. “That’s what creates angst and it creates people wanting to find out how to handle the whole process.”

Bill Tobin from McDonough, who works in sales and is a Georgia season ticket holder since 2009, had a better experience. He said he quickly set up a temporary password after clicking on the email link, but said when he logged in, he saw a message about invalid credentials.

He turned to the Georgia fan community on a message board at Dawg­Post.com to figure out how to use the app.

“I have no issues with the Georgia ticket people, they’re always very helpful,” Tobin said. “This is handled I guess through a different entity and it’s kind of cumbersome.”

Georgia season ticket holders with $12,172 in lifetime contributions were eligible to purchase tickets for the national championship game, McGarity said.

Tobin said he paid $475 each for two upper deck tickets.

Center was concerned with the mobile tickets about what happens if his cellphone loses power or he can’t get a good connection.

Fans whose phones may die before entering Mercedes-Benz Stadium, or those without smart phones, can show ID at the box office on game day to get tickets printed on normal ticket stock that can be scanned into the venue, Ticketmaster director of communications Ashley Dos Santos said by email.

The mobile-only tickets “makes transfers and sales safer and more convenient for fans,” according to Ticketmaster.

Ticketmaster is asking fans to fully charge phones prior to getting to Mercedes-Benz Stadium, or to bring a portable charger.

The company will send souvenir tickets to the original buyer after the game.

The average purchase price per ticket at secondary market TickPick on Thursday was $2,616.62, which is higher than the average prices during the four years of the playoff. Two-thirds of the orders are from Georgia. The “get-in-price” dropped 18.4 percent, which was attributed to Alabama fans willingness to resell tickets in their third straight national title game appearance.