On Saturday, March 31, University Students had the privilege of watching Mamadi Diakite sink a buzzer beater against Purdue that led to an exciting overtime and an 80-75 win, allowing our beloved Wahoos to advance to the Final Four in the NCAA Tournament. The restaurants and bars around grounds were packed with screaming fans, bursting with excitement that represented all that I love about the University — community, diversity and a shared love for our talented basketball team.
For the first time since 1984, U.Va. will be playing in the Final Four. This is a moment that fans have been anticipating for decades, and I was excited to watch U.Va. play again at one of most energetic places to cheer on our Hoos — the Corner — until I heard about the cover charges for this weekend. In honor of the first time the Hoos have advanced to the Final Four in 35 years, Trinity Irish Pub and Boylan Heights announced that they will be conducting ticketed entry events to watch the Final Four Game on Saturday, April 6, which come with food and drink packages. Though their $35 tickets sold out quickly, Trinity Irish Pub announced it would be selling $75 tickets for their 21 and over event in an email to some fourth-year students. The tickets to Boylan’s event cost $35. It should be noted that even a $35 entry ticket is approximately the cost to attend the game itself, which is $40 for students.
While both bars are privately-owned businesses that can conduct events as they wish by law, charging for the event is elitist gatekeeping, as it prevents many students from cheering on their beloved team in the Final Four.
This exorbitant cost covers some drink tickets and a meal. In an email sent by the Boylan Heights staff to their employees, it was announced that if the employees sold 5 tickets, they would be able to enter for free. In the same email, it was declared that for those who purchased tickets, table reservations would also be available, and doors would open at 3:00 p.m. for those reservations to be claimed. There were no general social media updates about public ticket sales, nor did either bar send out a notifications to the general public announcing the sale of these tickets. Trinity’s tickets were already scarce by the middle of the day Tuesday and Boylan’s tickets sold out on the first day of sales.
During my time at U.V.a, this is the first time that the Corner bars have charged any amount of money to simply enter the bar and enjoy a game. Many students have expressed frustrations concerning whether or not it is fair for these bars to charge such an prohibitive amount just to watch the game.
The cost of $35 or $75 is more than many students would dream to spend to watch their prized Hoos. Many students wish to watch the game in a community setting — in a place that is normally free to enter. Trinity and Boylan’s choice to conduct private ticket sales at such a high cost is disparaging to many students who cannot afford the ticket or were not offered the opportunity to purchase one due to the private nature of the sale. Plenty of our fellow Hoos do not have the privilege to eat out on the Corner, let alone pay to enter the bar.
U.Va. is often criticized for its reputation as a conglomeration of upper-middle class, preppy students with all the financial resources available to them. While this less-than-sterling reputation is not an accurate depiction of our racially and socioeconomically diverse university, events like this illustrate that there are still financial hoops left to jump through in order to be a part of the University community. The numerically coincidental ticket price reinforces the negative stereotypes surrounding our student body and has left many of our students alienated by a culture that claims to support them.
Emma Anderson is a third-year student in the College.