February 10, 2005

Stewart Sells Out Barton

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By 2:30 p.m. yesterday, all five thousand advance tickets for Jon Stewart’s March 4 appearance were sold. “We anticipated we would sell a lot of tickets the first day,” said Jon Bellante ’06, chairman of the Cornell University Programming Board. “We were shocked that the line would go across the arts quad.”

Aaron J. Saathoff grad arrived before 9 a.m. and stayed until 1:30 that afternoon for a chance to see the host of The Daily Show and best-selling author of America: The Book. After all the waiting, he did indeed get tickets to see the comedian-cum-media critic. He says the programming board should have been better prepared for the crowds.

By that time, Bellante said, the line had wound well out into the arts quad. “There were substantial periods of time when the line wasn’t moving at all,” he said. “It seems like if they’re capable of bringing in big name acts, which they should be applauded for, they should find a way to distribute the tickets more quickly.” He suggested that the programming board could add more lanes. He said that there was only one person verifying cards, causing a major bottleneck. The current system, he says, could have been accomplished by “a group of semi-organized chimpanzees.”

Others, however, were not as lucky as Saathoff. Kari Christensen ’06 arrived early only to find a giant line stretching throughout the quad. She said she arrived at about 8 a.m. and stayed until 11, when she had to leave for class. “It’s just a frustrating experience, because it’s something I wanted to do for my boyfriend,” she said. “I didn’t realize it was going to be as big a deal as it was.”

Bellante says that the volunteers worked as fast and as hard as they could have. “There’s no way we could have sold tickets in a faster way,” he said. He added that the board had considered online sales, but decided against the approach because about half the tickets were pre-assigned seating, which the ticket holder picks out. This also slowed down the process dramatically before the pre-assigned tickets ran out.

Christensen and others who left empty-handed may have a second chance, however. Bellante says that the board plans on releasing 200-300 tickets on the day of the event. He described the remaining seats as “view obstructed” and that the exact number would be determined closer to the event.

The set-up will be the same one as was used when Prof. John Cleese, A. D. White Professor-at-Large, spoke last semester. About half the tickets are general admission bleacher seats and half assigned floor seats.

Archived article by Michael Morisy
Sun Senior Writer