BOULDER, Colo. — The hype over University of Colorado football is hitting a fever pitch ahead of their first home game Saturday, but hundreds of students who paid for a Student Sports Pass can't go to the game.
It's all because of high demand and the new way CU is handling tickets this season.
While talking to students on campus, it's a tale of ticket holders and ticket hopefuls.
"I was over the moon, it was big. I was a little worried about it, and then when I got it, it was just pure happiness," explained CU Boulder freshman Luke Jakobsen.
"It was definitely a stressful time because it was like, I need to get a ticket. I mean, it's the first game," said Kate Marcus, who was in class when tickets became available and recruited her mom to help keep her spot in the online queue.
"I got really sad. I couldn't get one, and everyone else got one. And then we're just here. Yeah, excluded. We're just trying our best," said Sophie Brous of her attempt to get one of the limited number of Student Sports Passes.
Demand has never been higher to check out the CU Buffs in their 'Prime Time' era.
"We always knew there was going to be a huge amount of excitement for Coach Prime, but I think it's exceeded even our lofty expectations," said Steve Hurlbert, chief spokesperson for the University of Colorado. "After the big win at TCU this past weekend, it's almost shifted into a second gear."
Tickets to Saturday's game sold out — the first time a CU game has sold out since October 5, 2019, against the University of Arizona. The university said the current interest in CU football is unprecedented.
"When there's really high demand — whether it's for CU football, whether it's for Taylor Swift, or whether it's for "Hamilton" — when you've got a limited amount of seats and a lot of people wanting to see it, there's obviously going to be limited availability," Hurlbert said.
The stadium's capacity is just over 50,000, and 11,000 seats are reserved for the student section. It's the same amount as previous years and accounts for about a third of the student body, according to CU. The university acknowledges it sold 12,000 student sports passes this year.
"We want to maximize student attendance and also minimize no-shows. There's going to be times where on a given weekend, a student or anybody may not be able to use their ticket. And we wanted to make sure that there's a procedure in place where that ticket would be used," Hurlbert said.
The new system in place for football tickets is a claims process. Owning a Student Sports Pass allows students to get a place in an online queue for a ticket, but does not guarantee them a ticket. A similar process has been used over the last few years with CU basketball tickets.
"I've seen people wait like two hours for tickets and they haven't got them," said Jakobsen of his friends who tried to get football tickets.
Season ticket holders make up 22,457 seats in the stadium this season. The University said around 20% of tickets are available for the public for any given game after a various number of tickets are used for groups like donors, visiting teams, recruits, student-athletes, etc.
"Students are a vital part of the atmosphere at CU games. They're just so important. But alumni are important and fans are important. When you've got a limited amount of seats, you've got all of these fan bases and different groups coming together that want to see the game. It's a fine line that you have to balance," said Hurlbert.
Hurlbert said the university is looking into ways to give students more opportunities to buy tickets, maybe even without a sports pass, but nothing is set in stone.