Danielle Duncan has never been to a gameday inside The Swamp, and she doesn’t really care to ever experience it.
The 18-year-old software engineering freshman didn’t sign up for the student ticket lottery and isn’t planning on getting any tickets to spend her Saturdays in the student section of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.
She said she doesn’t like football and normally just claps when other people clap at a game. She doesn’t like the cramped environment, either.
And Duncan isn’t alone. For the first time, student season tickets are not sold out yet, according to Mark Gajda, assistant athletics director with the University Athletic Association.
Gajda said this year, the department is 1,000 tickets below its average 21,500 UF band and student tickets — about a 5 percent decrease.
In the seven or eight years the lottery has been around, he said, this has never happened.
Gajda said students may not know to register for the season ticket lottery over the summer because they don’t check their UF email accounts and aren’t on campus.
“The student population this year just didn’t come out as much as previous years,” he said. “I think fans are still excited. July to August are just summer doldrums.”
The incoming freshman class typically buys the most lottery tickets because it’s the largest class by numbers, Gajda said. This year, the class distribution was normal.
Student season tickets cost $105 for seven home games this year. Unclaimed student tickets cost $15 per game, according to the Gator Ticket Office.
Any remaining student tickets will be sold to the general public before each game this fall.
While Gajda said fans will buy tickets to fill the Swamp’s seats, he admitted there is “less demand than supply” regarding student season tickets.
Regular season tickets, though, have been up by a few hundred more tickets sold, Gajda said.
Last season, three of seven home games were not officially sold out: those against Furman University, University of Alabama-Birmingham and Florida Atlantic University.
Gajda said the 2011 season was also the first time one-game ticket sales didn’t sell out at the end of the season.
Kimble McKay, a law student at Florida Coastal School of Law in Jacksonville, graduated from UF in 2010. He said he was shocked that student tickets weren’t selling out.
He still tailgates home games at Lake Alice Field, a tradition he’s kept with his family since he was 10 years old.
“Even though we haven’t done as well in recent years, I still go,” he said. “I think new students just have expectations so high.”
For some students, though, dollars matter just as much as touchdowns do.
Magdala Joseph, 21, said she would just rather pay her tuition bills than sign up for the student ticket lottery.
“It’s not as fun when the Gators aren’t winning,” the criminology and law and anthropology senior said. “If it becomes a season where games are worth watching, I’ll go. But I’m not motivated to go get unclaimed tickets right now.”
Antony Rivera, a 19-year-old information systems sophomore, said he got the student ticket lottery his freshman year but only went to one game. He said his friends never went, he didn’t have much time and the Gators’ losing streak last season was a “turn-off.”
“I personally thought it was a bad investment,” he said. “If you’re there and your team is losing, you’re just sitting there and that’s never fun in any kind of event.”