By Rick Cleveland
Toughest ticket in Mississippi sports history?
If not, tickets to this weekend’s Ole Miss-Southern Miss NCAA Super Regional baseball series in Hattiesburg are certainly in the first sentence of any conversation on that subject.
Tickets with a face value of $60 are going as much as $1800 on StubHub. It goes back to the old economics principle of supply and demand. In this case, the demand for tickets is far, far higher than the number of tickets available for sale. The seating capacity at USM’s Pete Taylor Park is just over 5,000. Southern Miss could probably sell 15 or 20 thousand tickets if that many were available.
Ole Miss (35-22) and Southern Miss (47-17) play Saturday and Sunday at 3 p.m. in Games 1 and 2. A third game, if necessary, will be played Monday at a time to be determined (by ESPN, of course). The winner of the series goes to the College World Series at Omaha.
Says Southern Miss athletic director Jeremy McClain, “The bottom line is that we are not able to sell tickets to some people who have been very supportive of our baseball program.”
Ole Miss athletic director Keith Carter is in the same boat, if not one even more submerged. By NCAA rules, Ole Miss was allotted 600 tickets. About 250 of those are committed to players’ and coaches’ families, leaving about 350 to be sold to Ole Miss supporters. This will give you some idea of how insufficient that number is: Ole Miss baseball has more than 136,000 Twitter followers, about 8,200 season ticket holders. Carter said the Ole Miss ticket office received 3,500 Super Regional ticket requests — that, despite people knowing how unlikely it was to obtain tickets.
So it is tickets with a face value of $60 are selling online for several hundreds of dollars on. secondary ticket markets. So it is people are celebrating scoring a ticket on the various Internet message boards as if celebrating a national championship.
So it is both Ole Miss and Southern Miss are setting up different venues where their fans can watch the game in a crowd atmosphere. Ole Miss will hold watch parties at the school’s baseball stadium. Southern Miss will have watch parties at Spirit Park on the school’s campus, about a half mile from Pete Taylor Park where a 20-foot video wall will be set up for the ESPNU feed.
No doubt, Mississippians by the thousands will opt to view the game in their own living rooms in air-conditioned comfort.
McLain was asked if Southern Miss is considering an expansion of Pete Taylor Park — or “The Pete” as it often called — where the Golden Eagles shattered season ticket and attendance records this past spring.
“We’re exploring it,” McClain said. “Actually, we’ve been looking at it for several months. We are in the early stages and we have some issues with expansion because of the ballpark’s surroundings. But we are looking at it and feel like there are some ways to add quality seating.”
That won’t help disappointed fans this weekend, although any athletic director — or businessman — will tell you that when demand far exceeds supply, it is a nice problem to have.
This article first appeared on Mississippi Today and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.