ROC announces changes to passes for 2023-24 season

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The ROC, BYU’s student section, will be seeing some adjustments in the 2023-24 season. Tickets and entry times to football and men’s basketball games will now be assigned via a random lottery, according to a ROC Board update posted Aug. 1. (Photo courtesy of Jaren Wilkey, BYU Photo)

BYU’s ROC Board released information about the 2023-2024 ROC pass Aug. 1. The updates have proven controversial.

ROC passes will go on sale Aug. 7 for an increased price of $200, giving current BYU students access to football, women’s soccer, women’s and men’s volleyball, women’s and men’s basketball, baseball, gymnastics and softball, according to the ROC’s website.

However, admission to football and men’s basketball games is no longer guaranteed. ROC pass holders will be eligible to request digital tickets, which will be “distributed via a request process and random selection,” according to the site.

The lottery will assign ROC pass holders to random entry groups. This change will eliminate the need for hours- or days-long lineups.

Seating capacity for sporting events remains the same; the ROC Board will be selling the same number of passes as in years past. However, guest passes will no longer be offered. Only BYU students and their spouses are eligible for pass purchase.

“Your chances of getting into a game are no different than years past,” a ROC Board member said in a video via Instagram. “We are implementing changes purely to enhance the ROC student experience on game day.”

For ROC pass holders not selected for a game ticket, a physical stand-by line will be available on game day. 

“Due to student and public safety, the university is transitioning away from camping and the previous line system,” an Instagram post recapping a conversation with the ROC Board said. “There have been too many cases of hospitalizations and trampling in the past for it to viably continue.”

In a video posted on their Instagram, members of the ROC Board said the lottery system will also allow students to participate in pre-game tailgate activities. During previous football seasons, many students have opted to hold a spot in line rather than hang out at Cougar Canyon.

The ROC Board said they plan to go “all-out” with the tailgate: DJs, lawn games, drinks, poster making and face painting are on the pre-game roster.

The announced changes are “done to be fair to all students with different schedules and to allow everyone to be part of the pre-game festivities,” a ROC Board member said in the video.

BYU sports fan and freshman Tanner Merback said he is less concerned about participating in pre-game activities and more concerned about watching Cougar football.

For him, the biggest drawback of the updates is that the random lottery does not guarantee admission. He said he is especially concerned about getting tickets to BYU’s home football game against the University of Oklahoma Nov. 18. 

“I think we should be putting our best foot forward going into the Big 12,” Merback said. “We need to put our best foot forward on the field, and we need to be loud as fans, and I don’t think we’re maximizing that.”

In Merback’s view, students who are dedicated enough to wait for a front-row seat deserve to be there. The random lottery could assign some of the university’s most passionate fans to the back of the admission line.

“BYU has one of the best home field advantages in the country,” he said. “By taking out some of the most passionate people with a random lottery, the game won’t be as passionate.”

Updates to ROC passes will improve student attendance at Cougar Canyon, a pre-game tailgating event located west of Lavell Edwards Stadium, according to the ROC Board. The Board said they hope to improve gameday experience for all students. (Photo courtesy of Mark A. Philbrick, BYU Photo)

When sophomore John Livingstone read concerned student reactions to the ROC pass changes online, he said he saw an opportunity to unify and amplify student voices.

He and his team created an Instagram page (@protect.theroc), which gained almost 700 followers in less than 24 hours. They gathered student opinions and concerns, met with ROC Board members and circulated a petition.

Livingstone said student representative Eli Hendricks talked with the ROC Board to bridge the gap between student and ROC Board visions for the upcoming sports season.

“There haven’t been any changes yet,” Livingstone said “But they are open to changing. They are open to ideas and feedback.”

Most pressing to students are the lottery system and the exclusion of guest passes, he said.

Livingstone’s biggest concern is the potential impact the new policies will have on the sports teams themselves. The most dedicated (and loudest) fans have the potential to make a “big difference in these games,” he said.

Looking back to the Cougars 2021 football game versus Arizona State University, Livingstone said the Sun Devil’s four false start penalties could be attributed to the volume of the student section.

“The student section actually does make a difference,” he said.

Livingstone said he worries new policies will reduce the energy and volume in the student section this season. Students from other universities, who will no longer be able to buy passes, make up a significant portion of the ROC. Diehard fans might be relegated to the nosebleed seats.

“There’s a lot of people who seem to think we’re trying to work against the ROC Board … we want to work with them,” he said. “We also want to be heard.”

For more information about ROC passes, visit this site.

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