It’s the busiest ticketing operation in the state. The University of New Mexico Ticketing Services sells tickets to more than 400 events every year for everything from football games to touring Broadway shows. A small staff of 10, along with 30 to 40 part-time workers, handles everything.
UNM operates some of the largest venues in New Mexico from Branch Field at University Stadium to the UNM Arena better known as the Pit. UNM Ticketing also sells tickets for Popejoy Hall, Johnson Center, Rodey Theatre, Keller Hall and other university venues. It’s a lot to keep up with, and Mark Koson, director of UNM Ticketing Services, says he couldn’t do it without his right hand person Kim Goodson and a staff that has stuck with him since the beginning.
When you talk with him Koson is relaxed and confident. He’s seen the problems and has learned to anticipate. In September, his staff had to handle 4,000 walk up sales in a few hours when people suddenly decided it was a perfect Saturday afternoon to go to the first UNM football game of the season. Sales went quickly and nearly everyone got in as efficiently as possible.
Koson started at UNM in September of 1993 as the ticketing manager for Athletics. By 1998, all ticketing at UNM had been consolidated into one operation, and the department UNM Ticketing Services was founded. At the time, UNM contracted with Tickets.com as the professional ticketing vendor. In 2005, UNM Ticketing Services began pursuing the opportunity of running their own in-house operation, knowing it could be an extremely successful venture, and at the same time continue to provide the highest level of customer service.
Because UNM Ticketing Services is a self-funded department at UNM, service fees are added to each ticket sold via the web/phone and outlets, to cover operating expenses such as regular updates to software and hardware that are needed. Additionally, these fees have been able to return more than $2.1 million back to UNM over the past six fiscal years.
Ticket sales are steady Koson says, because there is a great variety of events at UNM. “In years when sales of football tickets slid downward, sales of tickets for performances at Popejoy picked up,” he said. “This year home football game ticket sales look good and so do sales for events at the Center for the Arts.”
Over the years, UNM venues have hosted everything from performances by the great tenor Luciano Pavarotti to professional bull riding in the Pit. The university also hosts events like the state high school basketball tournament every March, which gives UNM ticketing one of its greatest challenges of the year.
Koson says ticket sales can vary by the type of event, and when talking sporting events, it can vary by event.
“I remember when we were still working out logistics for ticket sales – this was in the mid ‘90’s and there was a basketball game that matched the girls basketball teams from Kirtland High School and Shiprock High School,” he says. “When we opened the windows there was a line of people stretched all the way around the Pit. It was just amazing. In my 19 plus years at UNM, it is the biggest walkup I’ve seen.”
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