Pens student rush continues at Consol
Published: Tuesday, November 2, 2010
Updated: Friday, February 1, 2013 15:02
Mid-afternoon, they began trickling around the corner of the Consol Energy Center.
Past the Trib Total Media gate, the line began next to the will call booth at the box office.
Sometimes the line may even wrap around the side of the building, too long for the eager fans at the back of the line to even come close to scoring a ticket.
As the hours passed and game time approached, dozens of college or high school students continued to line up to purchase "student rush" tickets for the Pittsburgh Penguins hockey game that evening.
The Consol Energy Center offers a minimum of 200 tickets for each home game, first-come first served, for just $25 to students with a valid high school or college identification card. The amount of tickets offered at each home game is based on availability.
"During times that we haven't sold out we needed a way to get rid of tickets," said Tom McMillan, Pittsburgh Penguins vice president of communications. "Although, for three and a half years, we haven't had that problem, but we didn't want to lose the program."
Occasionally there will be an excess amount of tickets offered, sometimes 20 or 25 each game but that is unpredictable, according to McMillan.
There are also special student rush tickets available throughout five set dates during the season. The availability of these tickets is at least 400, which include three upcoming nights: Tuesday, Nov. 16 versus the Anaheim Ducks, Friday, Jan. 28 versus the Ottawa Senators and Wednesday, Mar. 2 versus the Buffalo Sabres.
On these special nights, a DJ and prize giveaways by American Eagle will also be present.
"[Student rush] has become popular enough to have American Eagle as its sponsor," McMillan said. "They like to hit their demographic as well, and their clothing is geared towards students, so they are very enthusiastic about it."
The student rush program began in the mid-‘90s when Sidney Crosby and his teammates were still skating at the Mellon Arena. This tradition came about because the box office was close to selling out, but they were about "a couple hundred short."
The box office believed that college students were the best target market for their single available seats that were scattered throughout the stadium.
"The student rush program has evolved over time," McMillan said. "There started to be this iconic line [of students] on the side of the building. It's about in it's third stage, and we have to preserve it to keep it going."
Dan Campbell, a recent graduate of the Engineering program at Point Park University has experienced the student rush line four or five times over the past six or seven years and has gotten in line as early as 2 p.m. for a 7 p.m. game.
"I have driven past the student rush line at 10 a.m. before on a 7 p.m. game day, and there was about 25 people already in line," Campbell said.
Anthony Russo, a junior transfer student from University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown and a sport, arts and entertainment management major at Point Park University is reconnecting with the city through the student rush program as well.
Russo waited patiently in line twice last season for about an hour each time, however, once he noticed that the box office was selling out, he decided to call it quits. Although Russo's patience did not get him very far, he did get to experience the benefits of the discounted tickets last year.
"I like it," Russo said." "It gives the students an opportunity to get to see a game that they normally wouldn't have tickets for."
The dedication to this program from the Pittsburgh Penguins and American Eagle is fierce, allowing students to come early, and keep them coming back.
For student rush, tents, grills and alcohol are not permitted, so camping out is not an option. Although students are required to line up only five hours in advance, some start the line even earlier to receive their discounted ticket.
"Clearly we could sell the tickets for full price to create more revenue," McMillan said. "But sometimes there are more important things. It is good to have young people in the building, we are building a fan base for the future."