College football remains one of the nation’s premier sports attractions, and even with the current proliferation of televised games, fans continue to buy all of the season tickets they can get their hands on.
At the University of Colorado in Boulder, home of the 1990 National Champions, they’re squeezing all of the season ticket holders they can into the 51,748-seat Folsom Stadium.
“We have about 30,000 season ticket holders this year,” said John Degling, ticket manager for the Buffaloes. “We sold out last year at 29,500, but we just squeezed more in this year.”
Purchasers of season tickets to the Buffaloes’ games get first shot at individual game tickets and priority points for away games and bowl games.
Georgia Tech in Atlanta also laid claim to the National Championship, and their fans responded by buying 23,000 season tickets, up from 15,000 last year. Mary Fowler, ticket manager at Georgia Tech, credits team play as the sole reason for the big jump.
The Iowa Hawkeyes are perennial Rose Bowl contenders, attending the 1991 version, and their fans love them for it. Kinnick Stadium seats 70,000, and season ticket holders account for all of about 1,000 of those seats.
“We’re about 1,000 short of selling out on a season ticket basis,” said Mike Naughton, ticket manager for the Hawkeyes. Of those season ticket holders, 8,400 are students, 5,500 are staff and faculty, and about 55,000 are from the public. Naughton credits last year’s Rose Bowl appearance for the success this year.
Louisiana State University (LSU), Baton Rouge, has a proud football tradition, but the last few seasons have left something to be desired for fans of the Bayou Bengals. But that hasn’t stopped LSU fans from buying tickets.
Last year 42,000 season tickets were sold at the 80,200-seat Tiger Stadium, and this year the number topped 43,800. Ticket Manager Ted Stickles credit optimism over the hiring of a new coach for the increase.
The University of Miami Hurricanes have enjoyed unparalleled success in recent years, and fans have responded in kind. Last year, ‘Canes fans bought 58,000 season tickets; that number dropped to 51,000 this year despite a high national ranking for the team entering the season.
“I think the decrease is both the reaction to the economy here and the lack of a perceived |big game’ on the home schedule,” said Steve Dangerfield, ticket manager at Miami. “We have no big emotional games at home this year, like Florida State or Notre Dame.”
The number of season tickets the Hurricanes sell these days is even more impressive when one looks at figures as recent as even 10 years ago. Then, the team was lucky to sell 20,000 season tickets.
The University of Michigan-Ann Arbor has the largest stadium on any college campus. Michigan Stadium regularly hosts crowds of more than 100,000. Ninety thousand season tickets are sold, including those for students, faculty and staff.
“We had a bigger demand this year than usual – we had to refund about 800 applicants,” said Steve Lambright, ticket manager. “About 68,000 of our season tickets go to the public.”
Ohio State University, Columbus, has recently expanded its stadium, with capacity around 92,000. Counting students, faculty and staff members, season ticket sales will top 70,000 this year.
Perennial powerhouse University of Oklahoma, Norman, can be counted on to sell 60,000 season tickets each year to the public. Season ticket holders receive an option to get in the draw for the Texas-Oklahoma game, held annually at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas during the Texas State Fair, as well as first options to individual and bowl games.
The University of Tennessee-Knoxville had an average attendance of more than 95,000 per game in 1990, and 63,423 of those were season ticket holders. This year the Volunteers sold 65,029, an increase due to scheduling.
Last year Tennessee played both Notre Dame and Alabama at home, with both teams demanding more tickets than Tennessee normally allots visiting teams.
The University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind., cuts off season ticket sales at 17,000. The Fighting Irish doesn’t maintain a waiting list.
“If a ticket is not renewed, it goes into a lottery for alumni,” said Lawrence Cunningham, ticket manager. “We could only accommodate 48 percent of our requests from alumni this year.”