Monday, March 10, 2008

Distribution of Yankee Stadium Tickets a Difficult Exercise in Fairness

Yankee Stadium Mass proves to be hot ticket - Fairness key issue for priests (Times Herald-Record, March 10, 2008) -- Michael Randall reports on a difficult task facing priests across the New York dioceses:

It's the kind of decision even wise old King Solomon might have tried to avoid.

Imagine you're the pastor of a local Catholic church and your parish has been allotted, say, 20 tickets for Pope Benedict XVI's upcoming Mass at Yankee Stadium.

What's a pastor to do?

In the Hudson Valley, some churches like St. Joseph's in Kingston simply announced the tickets were available and handed them out on a first-come, first-served basis.

Others picked the winners' names out of a hat or other handy container, like a low-tech Lotto drawing.

They used the latter method at Sacred Heart Church in Newburgh, where Bishop Dominick Lagonegro is pastor. They had 43 tickets and more than 120 people asking for them.

The article goes into some detail on how the tickets were apportioned to individual parishes:
Each parish's allotment for the stadium Mass was based on 3.5 percent of its average Sunday attendance in 2006. So, parishes with larger memberships got 50, 60 or more tickets, while the smallest got maybe 10 or 12.

Ticket allotment for the other public event — a youth rally and prayer service at St. Joseph's Seminary in Yonkers — were based on the population of a parish school for those that have them, as well as participation in parish youth groups or religious education programs.

But once those tickets were spoken for, that was it.

Crowds of 60,000 are expected at the stadium and 20,000 in Yonkers, but even that many tickets go fast when you're dividing them among the 395 parishes in the archdiocese and visitors from other dioceses.

as well as the intensive security precautions involved:
Parishes had to give church officials the names of those receiving tickets well ahead of time for background checks. Those with a ticket will have to show it and a photo ID to get in. So if you can't make it at the last minute, you can't pass the ticket off to your grandma or Aunt Harriet or cousin Phil.