Letter from a UH basketball fan

Greetings Dave –

I read your column and appreciate your commentary. However, I suspect that as a sportswriter with clout (and access to ideal seating at games,) it occurred to me you might not understand some of the frustrations for the common UH fan.

My husband and I pour the majority of our (limited) entertainment dollars into UH sports.   We held UH Men’s Basketball season tickets for 10 years. This year we gave them up, with sadness – because nearly all of the pre-conference games conflicts with our schedule, and we cannot justify the season ticket price if we could only attend less than half of the games.  (Happily, I just renewed our Koa Anuenue sports package  for baseball – whew!)

From our experience (ourselves, friends, and clients,) we see that a major deterrent for many locals is the lack of available seats – literally NONE available in the lower half of the arena or the first six rows of the upper section. Even now as I look to purchase tickets for future games, I am lucky to find a single ticket below the uppermost 10 rows of the upper section.

To be clear – we are satisfied with seats in the back – when the arena is actually full!   Unfortunately the arena has been half-empty (mostly in the lower section) for many years.

We are not inclined to buy cheap tickets and move into the lower section – thus it is irritating to climb up, up, up the stairs and watch as most of the lower section remains empty for the entire game.

As if that isn’t bad enough, once we drive in for the game (over an hour) we are then forced to weave through the gauntlet of guys throughout the promenade who hawk tickets (yup – for those better seats – tickets which are not available through proper channels.)   I know they are technically not “scalpers” because they sell the tickets for the same price as at the window.   Even still, some sell fakes and tickets that have already been scanned – I watched that scenario play out a year ago when a friend purchased a ticket from a hawker and it was invalid. Big embarrassing bummer.

This last part really dampens the entire experience.

The lack of available seats and creeper hawkers have been a problem for basketball for as long as I can remember ( plus 10 years.)

My understanding is the bulk of unused tickets are held by companies  (big donors, sponsors, etc) that couldn’t even pay their employees (or clients) to attend the game. So why does UH continue to give away the premium seats to groups who don’t use them?  This archaic practice is one of the main reasons why attendance remains low, even as this team soars.

The simple fact is, UH deters fan attendance by its own system and design.  This is an issue that merits prompt correction.

Regarding sponsors – how ironic that they waste the premium seats instead of returning them to UH – so that more people would attend, and their sponsorship would be exposed to so many more fans.  talk about D’oh!

I wonder if UH could offer to make seats available to the donors/sponsors on a per-game basis.  It could be referred to as “access to premium tickets” and offered for a limited time ahead of games, on a first-come basis.  If the donor/sponsors do not make an effort to actually claim tickets, within a week of each game, those seats would be offered to the public.

Chances are that most of the unused premium seats would be available for purchase. “Average Joes” (such as myself, my husband, our neighbors, and pals) would would joyfully buy in …. and actually ATTEND the games!

And …. this would also virtually eliminate all the creepy hawkers!

Perhaps you could focus on this in an upcoming column.

With appreciation,
Michele Harris


  1. Michael January 7, 2014 8:55 pm

    Thank you, Michele. Great suggestions regarding the donors/sponsors. I believe that UH absolutely has to be more creative in attracting fans to the games. The package offered for the men’s volleyball tickets (any 6 matches for $60), with all seating in the lower bowl, was a good example, and one that I jumped at.

  2. Critical Reader January 7, 2014 9:12 pm

    Ms. Harris, to her credit, thinks too much, or way more than the average fan impacted by this stuff, and therefore, way, way, way, way, way, way more than anybody at UH. Ms. Harris thinks too much not because she is wrong, or bad, or not smart, but because her idea is a good one, and therefore one UH will never implement, and therefore her thoughts are a waste of time.

    The average fan doesn’t go that deep. They just get disgusted, turned off, and move on.

    Also, my understanding of what Ms. Harris speaks of is that she is only partially correct, but because of a dirty little secret at UH.

    The secret? Many of those seats Ms. Harris sees empty in the choice areas, and, if she’s looking at Aloha Stadium, there too, are unsold. UNSOLD. BUT, are not available for single game sales.


    Because they are “premium” charged seats being held back by Koa Anuenue and other interests that control tickets. Koa Anuenue’s cache of tickets is being held back based on reasoning that it MUST hold them to extract the seat premiums. Somebody, or some body at UH, believes that if they release unsold “premium” generating tickets for single game sales, they won’t be able to get the “premium” in the future, OR, that if they hold on to them long enough, they will EVENTUALLY GET THE PREMIUM (like for the last half, or last 5, or last 4 or last 3, etc., etc., etc. games of the season), OR, it’s not fair to the guys who paid the premium (like, for instance, the few friends UHAD staff have left), so, they don’t release ’em.

    No matter the reasoning, the bottom line is that UH ends up not collecting the seat premiums, and also NOT COLLECTING THE BASE TICKET PRICE!

    Count the # of seats requiring a premium payment in the stadium. Then count the # of season tickets sold. The difference roughly equals the number of tickets being held back, BUT, not being made available for per game ticket sales. It’s the reason why when you go on the internet looking for seats, there are no good ones left, and you say to yourself, “Eh, howcum?? I thought no one was going to games???”

    Of course, I would bet that SOME people have access to those tickets. And SOME are getting them free. It would be interesting to read a story about that.

  3. PurpleMaple January 7, 2014 11:09 pm

    The condition or situation that Ms Harris describes is so true. That’s why I’ve stopped going to UH Men’s basketball and Women’s volleyball at the Stan Sheriff Center (SSC). You just can’t get tickets for seats where it is worth the time, effort and money to attend these games at the SSC. Why not investigate the situation to find out why fans are unable to purchase tickets for seats where you can enjoy the game/match, yet the arena is not even half full.

  4. Mattie cakes January 7, 2014 11:25 pm

    I agree 100%. I recently came back from grad school at a university that is top 5 nationally in attendance for Men’s basketball. I’ve always followed UH on TV while on the mainland and it was always discouraging to me to see how empty the arena was. That trend continued this season so I was excited when I came back to support my original alma mater and attend some games. Unfortunately, it was exactly as Ms. Harris explains. The arena is empty while there are no lower level tickets for purchase!! This is incredibly stupid and if these premium seats are indeed held by sponsors, some system should be implemented to make these tickets available on a game-to-game basis to the general public if the sponsors will not be using them!

  5. Mrs. C. Cranmer January 8, 2014 5:19 am

    I am so grateful that a conscientious fan has brought this situation to light. When the fan base is discouraged, this can’t be good for morale or support for their team. Why is this being allowed to continue? Why do politics over common sense have to pervade everything? Why is it that the logic is so off. As a UF Gator basketball fan, the O’Connell center and all other arenas where they play are always packed to the gills with mostly student fans. This is so outrageous that money is King in Hawaii over everything else, even including the principles of good sportsmanship and athletic ethics.

  6. hanahou January 8, 2014 6:18 am

    I thought it was strange when I bought a ticket from the guy selling them outside the SSC that it said complementary on it.

  7. NotNasti January 8, 2014 8:21 am

    Critical Thinker: What you say is not entirely true. I have had season tickets in the lower bowl of the arena from the day it opened. We have four seats. There is a single seat (immediately to my right) in our row that is unsold. There is another single seat directly behind that open seat in the row above me that is also unsold. Those two seats are available for purchase on a game-by-game basis. My sister also has lower bowl season tickets elsewhere in the arena. On the days that our mother is in town visiting, she purchases a ticket for the empty seat next to her. UH Athletics does allow ticket holders to resell their tickets through the UH Athletics website. Corporations and individuals who would ordinarily let those tickets go to waste should resell them, and “donate” the proceeds from the resale back to the University. As far as the seats in the “premium” section of Aloha Stadium being available for game-by-game purchase, they should be made available, at a higher price than tickets in the non-premium section.

  8. man eating apple January 8, 2014 8:37 am

    Two words for people seeking a solution like Ms. Harris: paperless ticketing. Then noone can resell a ticket. Thus noone has an incentive to buy up tickets that they won’t use, and which they only got so that they could sell. Another bonus then is that all ticket money goes to the UH box office.

  9. Manoa Mist January 8, 2014 9:15 am

    Classy letter Ms. Harris. If you’re looking for logic and rationale, you will not find it at UH so don’t get your hopes up. It’s like trying to understand women – no can, so just love ’em how they be. And buy a nice television.

  10. Turfwar January 8, 2014 3:31 pm

    Sit in any available seat after the game starts. You will usually be good to go the rest of the night. Making administrative changes to available seats will eventually cause more problems even it seems to make sense. If you were to ask corporate donors to monitor the purchase of tickets on a week by week basis they would simply not do it and spend the money on something else and UH will not find enough fans to buy those tickets. Just take care of your own needs and go sit in available seats. The truth is that on nights when big crowds show up they just want to be there regardless of where they have to sit. More fans don’t come because of win/lost records and television. Not because of seat location. Take away tv and more people would attend despite seat location. A 10,000 seat arena probably only has 5000 great seats and that’s how many come on a average night anyway. Making better seats available by going thru a turn it in process will require a headache of new rules for everybody. I have great seats in the lower bowl and even i sit in different seats sometimes to get closer or for a different angle. And I’ve been doing this since the seventies at the Blaisdell. I see elderly fans who come in wheel chairs and are helped into their seats. Their time is short and valuable and yet they make the effort. If they can do this you can go walk to a better seat.

  11. K-Bay January 8, 2014 10:30 pm

    IF TRUE, UHAD Needs To Incorporate/Respond,
    WHAT is The Truth (from their Perspective)
    AND What WILL You Do/Pursue?

    MAYBE Itʻs Time to Invoke an Acceptable Custom Stating (Announcing to the Crowd) that, For Example, After the first Ten Minutes of the Game, that It Is Acceptable to “Come On Down” But Please Agreeably Re-Locate IF The Seat Ticketholder Asks/Appears” (Similar to Les Murakami’s Standing Room Only Policy…)

    (FAN) Perception IS Reality

    FROM: We (Loudly) Occupy Our Seats

  12. Michele January 9, 2014 9:01 am

    Wow – I am so inspired by Dave Reardon and thoughtful, considerate comments.

    Thanks also for the additional information – I am unable to keep up with all of the ticketing “shenanigans” at UH and thus am unaware of some circumstances as pointed out.

    Best wishes,


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