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Editorial: Greater clarity on tickets, ISSA

Published:Friday | April 3, 2015 | 12:00 AM

The Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA) and the chairman of its schools’ athletics championships committee, Colleen Montague, owes athletics fans a fuller, logical explanation, for the entrance ticket debacle for last week’s competition at the National Stadium. Perhaps more important, they have to outline how they’ll ensure that it never happens again. We say without reservation that Jamaica’s Champs is among the world’s great sporting spectacles. Few other events anywhere can teams expect the depth of fan loyalty, driven by alumni, as do Jamaican high schools. And it is unlikely that any other such age-group championship provides competition as intense and performances at such consistently high standards. The bottom line is that a huge audience, in the context of a country as small as Jamaica, attends these games, especially on its closing day, Saturday. It is not unusual for the National Stadium, which accommodates around 35,000 people, or something close to number, to be packed, or nearly so. It  is not unusual for fans to find it difficult to acquire tickets, particularly for choice seats, almost immediately after they go on sale, often leading to complaints about the lack of transparency in the way ISSA handles this aspect of its affairs, including last week, by Don Wehby, the boss of the games’ major sponsor, GraceKennedy. This year, the problem was worse. On the final day of competition, hundreds of people who held legitimate tickets couldn’t enter the stadium, apparently because of an absence of room. According to Ms Montague, none of the games’ sponsors has "anything to do with the sale, dissemination, or distribution of tickets”. They purchase their allotments, she said, “as per their contractual arrangements”. This we interpret to mean that the commercial sale of tickets for Champs is entirely within the control of ISSA, which we believe would know the capacity of the stadium and would not, in the circumstance, distribute and sell more tickets that it can accommodate – which Ms Montague said was not the case. She said that there were ticketing ‘issues’ at the entrance on the games’ closing day because of security measures imposed by the police to deal with potential problems. That, however, does not appropriately explain what appears to have been an accommodation issue, rather than merely a matter of an extended wait. Nor does it speak of the loss to people who purchased ticket in good faith, by deprived their reasonable expectation of a enjoying a day of athletic performances. It wouldn’t be unreasonable of such persons, having been denied entry to stadium,  to expect that their tickets to be redeemed and their money refunded. As part of its explanation, ISSA should say how many tickets were printed for each day, how they were either distributed or sold, and how many were redeemed at the gates and how the problems of the past will finally be fixed.