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.