By: Sean Cartell
SEC Digital Network
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – David Knight (@SEC_Knight) is the Director of Championship Ticket Operations for the Southeastern Conference and is responsible for the ticketing process for the SEC Football Championship Game, which takes place on Saturday at the Georgia Dome.
Knight sat down with the SEC Digital Network on Tuesday to explain the ticket process and offer some advice for fans attending the game in this SEC Q&A.
SEC Digital Network: If a fan doesn’t already have a ticket to the SEC Championship Game and would like to acquire tickets, what is your advice to that fan?
David Knight: “Both of the schools are sold out of their tickets and we are sold out of our tickets. There’s no question that the demand is as high as it’s ever been for the type of match-up that we have. I would advise fans to be very cautious. There are secondary market venues out there on the internet. We don’t have a relationship with any of the secondary market venues. Fans can kind of tell which ones are more reputable than others, so that’s certainly an option. One thing I would caution fans on is especially purchasing tickets on the streets in the areas surrounding the Georgia Dome. The last several years, we’ve continued to have problems with counterfeit tickets being sold in the greater downtown Atlanta area. Ninety-nine percent of the counterfeit tickets that come to our doors are sold on the streets; they are typically cash sales so there is no trace of credit cards or records of the transaction. It’s a high-demand ticket. Everybody that wants tickets is not necessarily going to be able to get them just because the supply is much lower than the demand out there.”
SEC Digital Network: What are some things to look for when purchasing a ticket through a secondary market to make sure that the ticket is not counterfeit?
David Knight: “To be quite honest, the counterfeit tickets have gotten very, very good and they look really good. The one thing that we will tell fans to look for is a holographic foil on the front of the tickets in several locations. There are two horizontal strips at the top of the ticket as well as several spots in the SEC logo in the middle of the ticket. In that holographic foil, you can see small SEC logos and you can also see the words Southeastern Conference continuously. If you don’t see that in the foil, it’s not a legitimate ticket. That is your first indication that you may have a bad ticket or may be about to purchase a bad ticket. There were some tickets last year that were counterfeit that had the SEC logos and had Southeastern Conference in the foil. It was very blurred and much more unclear than ours. I would recommend that you look for a good, crisp, clean look of the SEC logos and the words Southeastern Conference in that holographic foil. At 10 a.m. Saturday, we have a ticket validation window that opens. If fans happen to be purchasing tickets in or around the Georgia Dome area, it is certainly a good thing if you’re trying to purchase a ticket on the street. You can say to the seller ‘Hey, let’s walk up to the window to just make sure these tickets are valid.’ I would strongly suggest that if the seller refuses to do that, you probably have a good idea that the tickets the person is selling you are not legitimate. It’s a good, safe way if the seller is willing to walk up to the validation window with you to validate the tickets.”
SEC Digital Network: If a fan has a baby or a small child, does that infant need a ticket to gain entry into the Georgia Dome?
David Knight: “Our policy on that is the same policy that all 14 of our institutions have: Every person, regardless of age, must have a ticket. I have two small children and that’s certainly a question for people who have children under the age of two, but with the type of jam-packed, sold-out environment that we have at our games, having an extra small child or baby, it just makes more sense that everybody have a seat, regardless of age.”
SEC Digital Network: If a fan already has tickets to Saturday’s game, but experiences issues with entry on game day, what should that fan do?
David Knight: “The best thing to do is to come around to the main box office, which is located on the south side of the Georgia Dome. We’ll have ticket representatives at each of the windows that can help and our staff will be there as well to help with any issue that arises. We deal with a lot of the counterfeit issues there in the box office and whatever else may come up.”
SEC Digital Network: What is the process like in order for fans to acquire SEC Football Championship tickets for future years?
David Knight: “It’s a difficult process because of the demand. We have public renewals that go out each spring and, within those public renewals, we have a 99.5 percent renewal rate, so there are very, very few tickets that come available each year. We have a waiting list that is actually open right now on the SEC Digital Network, on the ticket office link. Fans can get on the waiting list from now through December 31 – that’s for next year’s game. If we were to have extra tickets come next summer, we’ll pull some names off that waiting list and give those fans an opportunity to purchase and get in to the renewal cycle. Once you get in the renewal cycle, you’re in good shape because, as long as you renew the tickets each year, you’re able to continue to purchase those. We have approximately 20,000 tickets that are in that public renewal cycle.”
SEC Digital Network: How does the SEC allocate the tickets for the SEC Championship Game?
David Knight: “We allocate approximately 16,200 or so tickets each to the two participating schools. That’s comparable to a BCS bowl type allotment. There are 20,000 tickets to public renewals. The suites in the Georgia Dome make up almost 5,000 tickets. The Georgia Dome, through our contract with them, has access to a number of club-level tickets that they use for their annual club-seat holders. The remainder of the tickets are made up of sponsors, television partners, bowl partners, and various other groups.”
SEC Digital Network: What time do the gates open on Saturday and how will a fan know which gate is the best one to enter?
David Knight: “The gates open at 2 p.m. ET – that’s two hours prior to kickoff. Our player guest gates for the two participating teams also open at 2 p.m., and those gates are located adjacent to the box office. There will be signage out there for those gates. So, it will be 2 p.m. for all fans entering the Georgia Dome. There’s a fan’s guide that was delivered with every set of tickets, whether you purchased them from the schools or from our office. In that, you will see gate locations and you can correspond your seating area with a particular gate location that makes sense for you to enter. The fan’s guide is an extremely valuable resource for a fan to have when going to Atlanta on Friday or Saturday. It has information about FanFare, pep rallies, gates and various other items in the Georgia Dome, whether it be first-aid stations or elevators, whatever it may be that you are looking for.”
SEC Digital Network: How can fans acquire tickets to Dr Pepper SEC FanFare and what is the experience like?
David Knight: “If you purchase tickets through our office or one of the schools, each game ticket comes with a FanFare ticket. If you don’t have tickets for the game and want to purchase tickets for FanFare, you can certainly do that at the doors of FanFare. FanFare is located in Hall C of the Georgia World Congress Center, which is right adjacent to the Georgia Dome. It’s a great opportunity for families, kids and people for all ages – there is something for everybody. An exciting part of FanFare is that we have the two pep rallies for the teams beginning at 1:30 p.m., and the bands and cheerleaders will be there for those pep rallies. There’s interactives for fans in FanFare, we will have our Legends on stage answering questions, we will have opportunities to hang out and watch other games, so it’s really a good opportunity, especially if it’s cold outside to get in there where it’s warm and just enjoy the few hours prior to kickoff. FanFare is open on Friday afternoon as well, so if you get in town early or are local to Atlanta, bring the kids and come down there and enjoy a less-crowded FanFare on Friday.”
SEC Digital Network: Any parting words of advice for fans coming to the SEC Championship Game?
David Knight: “Visit our Web site (www.SECDigitalNetwork.com) and there’s even more information on there as far as getting into town and things to do. It’s always a pretty special weekend. We’re fortunate to continue to have good match-ups and this year we’ve got a national semifinal, so it’s certainly going to be a tremendous match-up and tremendous environment as it always is.”