By Molly Lang
If you are a student at Blake, chances are you don’t have a job, much less a debit or credit card. This is why MCPS’s new partnership with ticket management system GoFan is a problem. On Thursday, a little more than 24 hours before Blake’s very first home playoff game in varsity football history, Mr. Fribush sent out an email that, in ominous bold and bright red text, said the tickets for the game would be sold digitally on GoFan for $6. At first glance, I thought this made sense. Maybe they didn’t want to use paper tickets for fear of Covid-19. Maybe the tickets were more expensive because it was a playoff game. However, as I downloaded the app and went through the ticket purchasing process, I found myself discovering more and more problems with this new method.
There are three main issues with the utilization of GoFan. One, it is the ONLY option for purchasing tickets for upcoming games. Say bye-bye to paper tickets! Fortunately for me, I have a summer job that allows me to have a bank account connected to a debit card, and even if I didn’t, I have two parents who would begrudgingly agree to buy the tickets for me. But there are some students at Blake who don’t have this luxury. Some students have no way to complete online payments and for that reason, they won’t be able to attend events for the foreseeable future (at least the rest of football playoffs and “additional events” during winter sports seasons, according to MCPS). Every student should have the option to buy tickets and GoFan takes away that accessibility, creating a display of privilege where there should not be one.
The second problem I have with MCPS and GoFan is how the pricing has changed and the tickets have become more expensive. At Friday’s game, tickers were $6, which I deduced was because it was a playoff game. At regular season games they were $5 for parents and other adults, and $3 if you showed your student ID. For Friday, there was no student discount which I also didn’t have a problem with because once again, playoff game, but on the GoFan app there was no option for a discount, student or otherwise. This is where I have a problem. As I mentioned above, I had a summer job as a lifeguard. I’m not making money anymore, and when I was, it was less than minimum wage. The 40% student discount for regular season tickets allowed me to be able to go to most of the games without making a massive financial dent. If there is no option for student discounts for future games, I don’t know if I’m willing to spend the extra $2 per ticket. Except scratch that, it’s not $2 extra, it’s $3, because there’s a convenience fee. A CONVENIENCE FEE!
This leads me to my #1 grievance with GoFan. The convenience fee. As you well know by now, the tickets for the game on Friday were $6. Plus a $1 convenience fee. So really the tickets were $7. Maybe this would have been fine with me (though probably not) if it had been mentioned in the email from Mr. Fribush or the Instagram post from @Blake_Athletics, but I found out about the fee the hard way. This might only be a complaint from me (as I sit here writing this, I’ve only taken one break to check Instagram, see that Taylor Swift dropped new merch, and immediately spent too much money to buy it, and this is what most of my spending habits look like), but a 17% fee is a lot, especially with no warning. What makes this even worse is that the fee isn’t going to Blake or MCPS, it’s going directly to GoFan. On the pricing page of GoFan’s website, it says that they add a “convenience fee for fans, as low as $1 per ticket.” This gives me two questions. One, who exactly is this convenient for? Because it’s not the fans, that’s for sure. And two, when they say “as low as $1 per ticket”, does that mean if I buy 5 overpriced tickets for my friends who can’t do it themselves, that I have to pay $5 in total for convenience fees? No way.
Let’s say, hypothetically, that MCPS implemented GoFan at the beginning of the fall season. So far, you have been to all nine regular season football games. Let’s also say that there’s no student discount for any of the tickets. That’s $5 per ticket + $1 for the “convenience” fee for 9 games. In total you will have paid $54. Now let’s say that GoFan was never on MCPS’s radar. That’s $3 a ticket (with a student discount) times 9 games. Only $27, exactly half of what you would have spent had MCPS started using GoFan at the beginning of the season. That’s absurd. I urge MCPS and MCPS athletics to reevaluate the switch from paper tickets to GoFan because GoFan adds a social and financial burden to students when all they want is to support their team.