Football: Why fans held tickets for seats that did not exist, and how Cal is fixing the problem

Cal says it is fixing a problem that led to the sale of seats that did not exist in three sections of renovated Memorial Stadium for last Saturday’s season-opening game against Nevada.

“We r aware of problem & apologize. Correcting 4 next week,” Cal athletic director Sandy Barbour said on Twitter.

Ashwin Puri, Cal’s associate athletic director for sales, marketing and service, said that it’s standard practice in new stadiums to make estimates before the project is complete of how many seats will fit in each row so tickets can be sold.

“Every stadium comes up with manifested number of seats prior to building being finalized,” he said. “It wasn’t a guessing game. It was based on conversations we had with the construction company.

“It’s not an exact science. That’s why you hold (extra) seats.”

By late last week, as seat numbers were being assigned to the benches, Puri said they realized sections V, UU and U in the northeast corner of the stadium were tighter than anticipated.

“We didn’t oversell it. We realized the error in our ways,” Puri said. “I don’t have an exact number — no more than 100. I doubt if it was even that many.”

Cal put customer service representatives at the top of every affected section on Saturday and relocated some fans who held tickets for seats that weren’t  available. Other fans chose to squeeze more tightly together for the Nevada game.

Puri, who previously worked for the New York Jets and the NBA, said this is a common issue with new stadiums or arenas. In this case, Cal did not have the chance to hold a test event that would have revealed the problem before the first game.

Counting individual chair-back seats is easy, Puri said, but calculating the number of tickets to be sold in bench sections is less exact.

Cal announced a crowd of 63,168 for the Nevada game — above the capacity of 63,000 for the facility making its debut after a $321 million seismic retrofit and renovation.

Puri the athletic department is doing all it can to find solutions before Saturday’s game against Southern Utah.

“We are proactively reaching out to every affected ticket holder to solve this. We want to make sure every one of our fans is happy,” Puri said.

He said some customers have been upgraded to seats valued at more than they paid.

Puri encouraged anyone whose seating issues have not resolved to call the Cal ticket office at 1-800-GO-BEARS on Tuesday.

Jeff Faraudo

  • rollonubears

    What a classic bunch of spin, and complete baloney.

  • GriZz

    “It’s not an exact science.”
    Exactly how many seats are in the stadium?
    Exactly how many did you sell?
    Whats not “exact” about this?

    For being such a quality academic institution — Cal football sure does think their fan’s are stupid.

  • Adubble

    How about correcting the problem on the field first, not in the stands. They wont have to worry about this for the rest of the season, because we likely wont have another sell out.

  • ConcordBear

    As long as they take care of the affected fans and make them happy all good. Sounds like that is what they are doing.
    Good for them.
    Now about that play on the field, the Golden Bears must be better.

  • daredevilfan

    Embarassing. The project should never have had a timetable that was so tight. We actually dodged a bullet that there weren’t worse mistakes. But responsibility flows to the top. I have no confidence that there are good decisions being made any more. scary times.

  • Juancho

    Did anyone else feel like the benches are longer and the aisles to get to the concourse are slimmer? It was a nightmare to go out and buy something during the game. I would say most people in my section sat still during half time because of the cluster f that was getting out and coming back.

  • Juancho

    Juancho Says:
    September 3rd, 2012 at 3:44 pm
    I think gould should get a shot at being our next head coach. If not mcintyre down at san jose state is working miracles with no budget. Imaine what he could do at cal.

    After saturday im slightly underwhelmed with the new stadium. The lines to get out of your seats and go to the bathroom during halftime were unreal. Stadium looks like it did before inside except for the press boxes. The better foodnoptions were real good. Probably pessimistic bc of how bad the game was.

    Coaching – worse than last year. Had all summer to prep for pistol. We got embarassed. Plus all the penalties where players didnt know if they were subbing out or not. Poorly prepared. Guys looked gassed too. A few guys looked out of shape. Maybe thosenfacilities are too nice.

    Qb – same as last year.

    Rb – looked worse than last year which ill blame on the line.

    Wr – same as last year. With the potential to be much better in a few games than last year. Was surprised how keenan couldnt outrun his guy in man coverage. Though he was doubled most of the day. Harper and treggs are the real deal.

    Te – what a bunch of nonsense that story about the patriots was. Looked same as last year. Irrelevant to our offense. Also dissapointed in rogers. He couldnt outrun the linebackers covering hi,. Not sure why there was so much hype here.

    O line – worse than last year bc of injuries etc. No push for the runningbacks.

    D line – same as last year. Non existent pass rush. Maybe its time to give up on the 3-4 defense. Maybe theres a reason why most teams in college have a 4 man front.

    Linebackers – worse than last year. Probably bc of wilkerson and whiteside missing. Our inside backers looked way out of their league. Mccain gave a good effort. Probably the only defender that looked good.

    Secondary – worse than last year. Maybe it was play calling and the cushion they were giving nevada but steve williams got picked on all game. Safeties including josh hill looked out classed. I liked the moxy hill showed late in the game getting on a few of his teammates. As a youth coach i know how important having a few guys like that on a team is, when the goimg gwts tough in a game its the players who either snap out of it or quit.

    Punter – impressed with the freshman. Better than last year.

    Kicker – worse than last year.

    Returners – better than last year. Allen was dynamic so was bigelow.

  • 707 Bear

    Article on the New Memorial, so a few observations:


    >food options (TVs to follow action while in line, Top Dogs on east side for 5 bucks)
    >bathrooms on west side (Starkey on the radio, paper towls, soap, sinks)
    >beautiful, permanent ticket booths on north and south side
    >gorgeous mezannine areas–inside and out–on the west side (views of the Bay and Maxwell Filed festivities)
    >handrails in the aisles (a welcome addition after seeing more than a few elderly folks fall on their way up to the seats)
    >sound system (perfect level, not too many commercials, allowed band to play during play stoppages)
    >video screen huge upgrade

    <west side is the same (except for no wood benches, port-a-potties, too narrow aisles near food, blinding/welcome sunshine)
    <same old bench seats with no legroom (how tall were people in 1923?)

  • Larry

    I thought something wasn’t right when there seemed to be more people than benches. I figured extra people from other sections were trying to squeeze in. Now I know they were selling my seat twice!

  • Rollonubears

    Various comments from fans suggest seat
    Number 21 was missing in every row of an entire section. Meaning they printed 20 and then 22, and nobody bothered to check. That’s a huge error. And if it’s true, the response from the university is pathetic. Own up to the mistake and move on. Does this really warrant a misinformation campaign?

  • MoreNCsarecoming

    #2 – GrIz

    You should cover UCB football. I like your style. Please apply over at the SF Comical. They have run out of stories which is apparent with the most recent one being a piece on the radio announcer who called the play.

    I guess the season is over.

  • jabes

    This doesn’t make any sense. They didn’t pour new concrete in those sections, they just replaced the benches. How could the # of seats and aisles change?

    This reminds me of Tennessee. They increased seating capacity by making a row of x seats be x+2, THAT was tight seating.

  • MoreNCsarecoming

    I have once again been validated. Here are a few posts on Bear Insider. Daddy had three tickets in TT and I have been saying for many years how the UCB state fans lack football knowledge.

    Here is what one guy said:

    “I’ve been a Cal fan for over 25 years, and want to win as bad as the next guy. But damn, the “fans” in TT bitch after every single play, even the good ones. And they don’t know their football.”

    Here is what another said.

    “By and large general Cal fans aren’t exactly the most knowledgeable football fans; there are a lot of fairweather bandwagoners out there.”

    Thank you thank you.

    Pressf5 for more BearTalk and GoGo Bears


  • BlueNGold

    I was at the game and a guy near me had a ticket for a nonexistent seat. It was not a big deal because there were some empty seats in the row and he took one of them. The problem in that location (Sec. Q) seemed to be that the rows got shorter toward the front of the section and they had miscounted the total number of seats the row could accomodate. Also, the permanent numbers on the seats had been scratched out and different numbers were put on with adhesive labels. So apparently they had to do some shuffling around of the benches.

    On the positive side, I thought the stadium was a major improvement. In the past I had been in the north end zone so this location, next to the east side of the south end zone, gave a great view of the entire field and the players. I was inpressed with the new scoreboards and PA system. I thought the new press box structure was too large (though I understand the need to build it that way) and unfortunately it blocks the bay and city views from the stands. All in all, I think the retrofit and remodel work is a major improvement, and I am proud that Cal stuck with it in the face of a lot of adversity and legions of doomsdayers and naysayers, some of whom hang out on this blog. Now its time for an extreme makeover of the football team, and that cannot come soon enough.

    P.S. – Trash talking trolls are NEVER validated.

  • MoreNCsarecoming

    #14 – BlueNGold

    Your latest post is getting closer but We are still waiting to hear a football related post from you.

    Whatever you do don’t revert back to another boring topic about the new food at the stadium.

  • H8sRed

    Daredevil — What did you have in mind for improving the construction timetable? They braced the facade before the last game in 2010 and started demolition the day after that last game. Crews worked 12 hours or more per day, 7 days per week — they could not work longer hours because of the neighbors — and they got the stadium open in time for the first game in 2012. Do you think they should have scheduled a second season at AT&T?

    After a $321 million renovation, over 21 months with hundreds of construction workers involved, if the worst mistake was the mis-numbering of a few seats, then I would say that’s a phenomenal performance. The project coordinators deserve hearty congratulations.

    If you want to complain about something, the team and coaching staff are deserving targets — almost across the board, their performance was pathetic on Saturday. But the team responsible for the construction of Memorial Stadium deserves nothing but praise.

  • daredevilfan

    H8sRed, I guess we have a different view of phenomenal. I don’t know all the details of the construction, and I wouldn’t advocate another season at AT&T, but I don’t feel that a mad rush at the end to be ready for the season opener is a success story. I call it lucky. They were one or two unexpected weather fronts or non-delivery of parts away from being totally screwed. I’ll congratulate the construction workers, but I expect my planners to find a way not to be rushing at the end. Now if you want to accuse me of griping about construction because I am really frustrated with my team, then I will fess up to that. But the Athletic Dept has lots of questionable decisions and practices as of late so we must question them. They get paid big bucks and should produce or get out of the way. Same goes for coaches and players.

  • H8sRed

    Are you kidding me? They were rushing this job from start to finish! From Day 1 of construction, they were behind the 8-ball if there was a prolonged storm or an interruption in any of their materials or equipment. This was a 24-30 month project that they completed in 21 months, and they had to coordinate work around Simpson Center construction for much of that time. Don’t they get credit for that?

    Again, take your ire out on the team and the coaches — they deserve it after Saturday’s performance. But congratulations are in order to those who made sure the stadium was game-ready by Sept 1. The fact that there were a few minor glitches when there was a full house that day is something that should be expected following an project as complicated as this one.

  • H8sRed

    By the way, on another thread, someone asked Tedford supporters — which I have been, with a few caveats over the years — to comment on Saturday, so here’s my two cents. While I’m not yet ready to call for Tedford’s head, obviously if things do not improve, I don’t think Cal has any other choice than to find a way to replace him.

    The abject failure of so many components of the Bears’ play and game plan have been covered ad nauseum by others. So I won’t dwell on the fact that the team’s performance was abysmal.

    I don’t think the root cause is lack of coaching. To the contrary, this team looked over-coached to me. The constant substitutions on offense and defense made it look like we were reacting to what Nevada was doing, rather than dictating the play. Moreover, both units spent so much time looking for instruction from the sidelines that it did not allow them to get a feel for the flow of the game or act instinctively to what was happening on the field. Exacerbating this were all of the last-second situational substitutions on defense. Without a doubt, I think the team would benefit from just putting the best 11 out there and letting them run a few plays so that they can use their God-given talents to make a play. If someone falters or needs to take a break, by all means, substitute, but as the old saying goes, “Let ’em play!”

  • Dan

    H8sRed @ 19 – I know you didn’t ask for it, but here’s my two cents. Over-coaching, especially season after season, is poor coaching. The examples you use are spot on- so is a ridiculously big and complex playbill, so much so that every new Cal QB that gets playing times looks bad – lost, tight, robotic, inconsistent and a disappointment. And this is after 2-3 years in the system. Meanwhile, in Eugene, Oregon Duck QBs are playing very well and leading the Ducks to 11-12 wins a season- as redshift freshmen. Freshman QBS play well all over the nation- none of our QBS play well. I believe it’s over coaching. What you call Over coaching is what I have seen as bad coaching.

    Our entire team has looked lost, tight, inconsistent, undisciplined- and I know that they aren’t “coached” enough. They just aren’t coached well or led well.

    I do agree with your later assertion- perhaps much would be gained by keeping things a bit simpler.

  • CalBearister

    Coach Tedford has a solution to the problem. Keep putting out poorly prepared football teams and there will be plenty of room for the people who are sold seats that don’t exist to sit.

    35k for Southern Utah maybe?

  • BlueNGold


    And we are still waiting for the trash talking troll to get a life.