SBD/December 14, 2011/Colleges

Virginia Tech Among High-Profile School Struggling To Sell Bowl Game Tickets

Virginia Tech through Monday had sold just 9,337 of its 17,500 ticket allotment for the Jan. 3 Allstate Sugar Bowl, and the school now is "asking fans to purchase 'proxy tickets,'" according to the ANNARBOR.com. The proxy tickets “will be distributed to military and charitable organizations.” The homepage of Virginia Tech's athletics website “includes a video plea from Hokies football coach Frank Beamer telling fans, "'We need your help.'" If Virginia Tech “doesn't sell the remaining 8,163 tickets, which cost $120 or $140 each, it has to pay for them.” VT in the game is facing Michigan, which “sold more than 14,000 of its 17,500 tickets in two days” (ANNARBOR.com, 12/13). In Virginia, Bob Molinaro writes Tech's inability to sell more of its 17,500 ticket allotment “is being used to support the complaints that assigning the Hokies to the Sugar Bowl because their fans travel well was a bogus strategy.” But the “soft sales to date are more a reflection of marketplace realities than consumer indifference.” Tickets bought through the school “are more expensive than those purchased on the secondary market” and budget-conscious fans, “no less zealous than others, will buy discounted tickets from online brokers” (Norfolk VIRGINIAN-PILOT, 12/14). Virginia Tech AD Jim Weaver said, "I didn't think it would be an easy sell. But I thought we would respond more closely to how we responded when we were playing Tennessee in Atlanta." He added, "I'm not disappointed because I think we're going to have a lot of people there. Our people, having gone to 19 straight bowl games, are pretty savvy, and they know how to work the secondary ticket market. So I think we're going to have our fans there. We're just not going to have all of our tickets sold. I think we'll end up selling 10,000, 10,500. That's a guesstimate. We still have two weeks to go" (Newport News DAILY PRESS, 12/14).

SELLING SLOWLY: In DC, Mark Giannotto reported West Virginia’s ticket office said that it has “sold 7,000 of its 17,500 tickets” for the Discover Orange Bowl, while Clemson said that the school “had sold 5,600 as of Monday.” Wisconsin, Oregon, Oklahoma State and Stanford “have either sold out or are close to selling out their ticket allotments for BCS bowl games” (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 12/13). Michigan State AD Mark Hollis said that “about 5,000 of the school's allotted 11,500 tickets have been sold” for the Jan. 2 Outback Bowl against Georgia. MSU yesterday began a marketing effort "in Florida to reach alumni who now live in the Southeast.” Hollis: “Ticket sales are going slower, obviously, than they have in the past when we've had 30,000 at Orlando (Capital One Bowl).” He added, "We've had good numbers everywhere we've gone. We're reaching out to the alumni, getting the information in the hands of anyone in the Southeast. It's a unique location for us -- we've never been to Tampa with the football program” (MLIVE.com, 12/13). Virginia Exec Associate AD Jon Oliver yesterday said that the school “does not expect to sell out its ticket allotment for the Chick-fil-A Bowl on Dec. 31” against Auburn. The school was given 18,000 tickets "as the ACC’s representative in the bowl game” but Oliver said UVA “will probably top out at 13,800, maybe 14,000 if everything is great.” Oliver also said that he “fully expects at least 20,000 Virginia fans to attend the game.” Oliver said that as of yesterday afternoon, the Cavaliers “had sold roughly 13,600 tickets to the contest” (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 12/13).

ON THE RISE
: In San Antonio, Tim Griffin noted ticket sales for the Valero Alamo Bowl have increased since Baylor QB Robert Griffin III won the Heisman Trophy Saturday night. Alamo Bowl President & CEO Derrick Fox said, “Ticket sales have been brisk for us ever since the announcement. We had a pickup once we announced the teams last week. We are seeing another surge post-Heisman.” Fox added, “There are a lot of people out there who just want to watch the Heisman Trophy winner.” Griffin noted officials are “considering installing temporary seating for the game," which pits Baylor against Washington on Dec. 29 at the Alamodome. The bowl's record attendance came in ‘07, “when 66,166 took in Penn State's 24-17 victory over Texas A&M” (SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS, 12/13). Cotton Bowl officials said that the Arkansas-Kansas State matchup “has already sold out, though tickets are available in the secondary market.” KSU AD John Currie said that the school “sold out its allotment before it even knew of its bowl destination” (AP, 12/9). North Carolina State has “sold out its ticket allotment of 12,500 tickets for the Belk Bowl in Charlotte” on Dec. 27. As of Monday morning, “more than 17,500 tickets had been sold through the school, with the number continuing to rise” (Raleigh NEWS & OBSERVER, 12/13). Univ. of Florida Assistant AD Mark Gajda said that as of yesterday afternoon, the school has sold about 7,500 of the school's 15,000 ticket guarantee for the TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl on Jan. 2. Ohio State Assistant SID Jerry Emig said that fans “had purchased around 6,500” of its allotment of 12,750 (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 12/14).
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