CHICAGO (CBS)–A group for underprivileged youth is blaming the J.B. Pritzker campaign for a ticket mix-up that left them out of the action for the recent Chicago Football Classic game at Soldier Field.
The Pritzker campaign says it was a misunderstanding. The kids’ mentor says he waited five weeks for an apology, emailing and calling. When he didn’t get one, he contacted CBS 2.
Pritzker’s campaign gifted a South Side coach that mentors kids with tickets to the game, but when the group arrived, they were turned away at the gates after learning they had the wrong tickets.
The mentor, Michael Smith, says he met Pritzker at a Labor Day rally.
Smith, who says he’s worked for Democratic causes for more than two decades, wanted to get the young people he mentors involved with the Pritzker campaign–especially because some of the kids will be first-time voters this year.
Smith says he was delighted to receive a call from a Pritzker campaign staffer saying he had 25 tickets for Smith’s mentees to attend the Chicago Football Classic between Miles and Morehouse Colleges at Soldier Field on Sept. 22.
Brandon Daughtry was overjoyed to learn he was going to the game.
“That’s very special, to be honest with you,” Daughtry said.
But that excitement soon turned to disappointment when Smith got a phone call from the Pritzker campaign a few hours before the game.
The staffer told him they made a mistake and they gave them the wrong set of tickets.
Many of the kids arrived to the game separately, and didn’t get the news about the tickets until they tried to get in but were turned away at the gate.
“That was a very embarrassing moment,” Daughtry said. “That’s what made me really upset.”
Quentin Fulks, deputy campaign manager for Pritzker, said the campaign had to revoke the tickets when they learned minors were banned from the suite because alcohol was being served.
“Once we learned he was giving those tickets to his youth group, we realized that minors were not allowed to be in the suite,” Fulks said. “We do apologize and we’re sorry some of the children were turned away from the game, but in reality, I think our campaign did take the appropriate steps to try to address the issue.”
The Pritzker campaign has sponsored the Chicago Football Classic for two years.
Larry Huggins is the co-founder of the event.
“I don’t think it was the intent of anybody to disrespect anybody,” Huggins said. “Mistakes do happen.”
He added, “I would be more than happy, to reach out to the parents and the students and make sure they get an opportunity, to go to a suite for next year’s game.”
Smith says he truly appreciates the offer of a non-alcohol suite suitable for minors for next year. He said the young people he mentors will appreciate it too.