An "unruly" crowd of hundreds of students lined up outside the Bryce Jordan Center to buy about 2,000 Rose Bowl tickets this morning, overwhelming staff and prompting a call to Penn State Police for assistance.
Rose Bowl tickets were allocated on a first-come, first-served system, but the location of the sale wasn't scheduled to be announced until 6:30 this morning -- an hour and a half before the first ticket would be sold. Some students started lining up outside the Bryce Jordan Center well before the announcement, anticipating the sale location.
It wasn't long before the crowd became "unruly," as Bud Meredith, director of athletic ticketing, put it. When the doors opened at about 7 a.m., the pushing began.
T.J. Dolan (junior-secondary education-social studies), who camps out at Paternoville, was among the students in line this morning who were unsatisfied with the sale procedure.
"It was completely unsafe," Dolan said. "I can't believe they actually thought this would work. I can't believe more people didn't get hurt."
Nick Rotondi (junior-film), who was also at the Bryce Jordan Center to get tickets, found himself caught in the crowd when just one door was opened to let a crowd of hundreds of students inside.
"My hand got wedged between the metal and the other person," he said about being pushed inside. "I was inside, [but my] hand was outside."
Penn State Police were not initially on call during the ticket sale, Meredith said. But once officials saw the line of students waiting outside, they asked for Penn State Police's assistance, he said. Officers were deployed inside the BJC to direct the crowd.
Penn State Police Sgt. Don Hazel said there were "a couple incidents," though he could not elaborate.
University police weren't briefed on the sale location beforehand, he said -- they found out at the same time as the rest of the public.
"They had to check to see the time and location, but there was no outside request for our officers to be on scene," Hazel said.
Ticket sales were scheduled to end at noon. With a valid student ID, students could purchase a maximum of two $145 tickets. Students looking to buy seats at the 2009 Rose Bowl still could as of 10 a.m., an athletics official said.
At 6:40 a.m., there were hundreds of students waiting in a line that stretched from Gate A to Curtin Road and continued down University Drive. The line seemed to form instantly once the location announcement was made.
The first Rose Bowl ticket went to John Moriarty (senior-finance), a member of the Student Nittany Lion Club, a group that was able to purchase its tickets before the rest of the students. Moriarty saw Penn State's 2006 Orange Bowl victory over Florida State - as well as 2004's 4-7 season. Today feels good, he said, holding two Rose Bowl tickets.
"I'm still nervous," he said. "I feel like it's almost too good to be true."
David Wright (senior-economics) was the first to step up to Gate B at 4:15 a.m. When the actual sale location was announced - Gate A, mere yards away - he sprinted with the rest of the crowd to secure a spot.
Wright tried to get football tickets for his senior year but did not. Going to the Rose Bowl, he said, will be his last game.
Colin Davis (junior-political science), who arrived at 5 a.m., was in line behind Wright at Gate B. Davis and his group of friends had people stationed at possible ticket sale locations across campus -- the Bryce Jordan Center, Beaver Stadium and the HUB-Robeson Center -- so they'd be ready when the 6:30 a.m. announcement was made. One student sat at Willard Building on a computer, ready to tell group members where to go when the location was announced.
Waking up early and standing in the cold was worth it, Davis said, especially because he's already bought a $689 plane ticket to see the Nittany Lions play USC in the Rose Bowl.
"I really just want to go," Davis said, "I could care less where I sit in the stadium."