Fans of Jacksonville Fight'n Indian basketball should make plans to get to the games earlier than usual and be prepared to enter the gymnasium at the time of ticket purchase for all District 16-4A contests this fall and winter.
The district ticket sales guidelines for basketball, as well as for all other sports, mirror that of football, and will be strictly enforced at the JHS Gymnasium, according to Chris Taber, Jacksonville athletic director/head football coach.
“We want to clear up the District (16-4A) ticket policy – it's not a UIL policy and its not a Jacksonville policy – about ticket sales,” Taber said Tuesday. “The policy for (gymnasiums) is the same as it is for the football stadiums in the district. Once you purchase a ticket you have to go into the gym and you can not leave and re-enter the building without purchasing another ticket.”
Taber said the only exception to the rule would be for fans that have student-athletes playing in the lower gym also.
“We don't charge admission for sub-varsity games that are played at the lower gym,” Taber said. “So if someone purchases a ticket to see a sibling player at the main gym later in the evening they can still go to the (early) sub-varsity game down at the lower gym and enter the main gym after the sub-varsity game is over in the lower gym.”
A major change this year is that JISD will be limited to selling a fixed number of tickets. With the building's seating capacity being just under 700 – most gymnasiums in the league seat about 2,000 people – procuring a seat could be more challenging than it has in years past.
“What will be a little bit different is our seating,” Taber said. “We seat 698 people and when the gym is full it's full and we can not let anyone else in.”
Taber said that there will be no advance ticket sales and that ticket sales will begin approximately 20-30 minutes prior to tipoff of the evening's first game, which generally gets under way at 5 p.m.
Students, both JISD pupils as well as those from visiting schools, will be subject to the same ticket sales policies as the general public.
“It's first come, first serve, and there are 698 seats, period,” Taber said. “When we have sold all 698 tickets, the doors will be locked so that we can be in compliance with the fire marshall and to protect the safety of the students as well as the general public.”
While the new policies may take some time for some fans to adjust to, in the long run there is an upside that everyone should appreciate.
“This will also eliminate some potential (safety) problems in the parking lots and on the school ground that can take place when people are allowed to come and go without purchasing a new ticket,” Taber said. “This will also enable all our teams to have the opportunity to play before large crowds and have that experience and that is important, particularly for our sub-varsity kids.”
In the past couple of years some of the Indians' home games have been played at the Smith Events Center at Lon Morris College, which had a large enough seating capacity to accommodate everyone.
With the college no longer in operation, that option is no longer available.
Taber said that he is confident that the JISD administration and board of trustees are already working on long-term measures to bring Jacksonville's primary arena up to the district standard.
But for the upcoming season, at least, fans should follow Taber's advice.
“The big thing that we are saying is if you want to go to the basketball games, you should show up earlier than normal and be ready to enter the gym when you purchase your ticket,” he said.
“And yes we anticipate having to turn people away for some of the bigger games like the John Tyler and Whitehouse games and possibly even the Lindale game.
“We will follow the (admission) policies that have been mandated by our district chair and all schools in our district should be following this same policy.”
The new ticket sales plan was scheduled to go into affect beginning with last night's game against Tyler Lee and will remain in affect for the duration of the 2012-13 season.