Location, late wins boost bowl ticket sales

Sam Darcy

After two years of spending the bowl season in the chill of Nashville, Tenn. following 7-5 regular seasons, fans of the University’s football team have been rewarded with a trip to sunny Arizona after this year’s 6-6 campaign.

University athletics spokesman Kyle Coughlin said ticket sales for the team’s Dec. 29 Insight Bowl appearance in Tempe, Ariz. to play Texas Tech seem to be better than last year’s Music City Bowl sales in Nashville.

“We’re ahead of last year’s pace by quite a bit,” he said. “Right now, we’re very encouraged.”

Coughlin said the University has begun to promote in the Phoenix area to reach alumni living there. Residents will be encouraged to buy their tickets through gophersports.com so they can sit in the Minnesota section and receive a cheaper ticket price, he said.

University director of alumni relations Mark Allen said Gopher fans had already purchased 2,600 tickets as of 11 a.m. Wednesday. The University has 17,000 alumni living in the southwestern United States, and another 50,000 Minnesotans live in the Phoenix metro area, which is sure to be good news for the team, Allen said.

Football booster Teresa Grim, president of the Goal Line Club, attributed the spike in ticket sales to the new, warm destination and large Arizona alumni base. Having the season end on a high note with three straight wins has also helped to drive up ticket sales, she said.

“We want to show the bowl committees that we can move tickets and that we can travel well,” Grim said. “At this point the University is selling more tickets than they have at any other bowl since ’99 and they hope to surpass that number.”

In 1999, the Gophers played in the Sun Bowl against the University of Oregon in El Paso, Texas.

Grim said the Goal Line Club, along with the alumni association and gopher marketing, have set up events for Gophers fans in Tempe. The events are spread out over three days and include a golf event, a welcome event, a Minnesota social and pre-game tailgating.

But communications senior Josh Johnson said he thinks the University-sponsored package deal prices only appeal to alumni and might force some students to go it on their own or stay home.

“I haven’t heard of any other students going down there,” he said. “I would assume some, but the package through the ‘U’ is so expensive that most will probably have to do their own thing.”

Johnson said the deals cost around $800, so he and his friends plan to make the 27-hour drive and find more affordable lodging.

Allen said a bus tour will be offered to students for a cheaper price and the student affairs office will encourage students to make the trip through mass e-mails.

“We’re planning on a large group of people,” he said. “And we want to get the word out to all the students.”

Despite the costs, Johnson said going to a Gopher bowl game was something he and his friends have thought about doing in the past, and the Tempe location made the decision easier.

“We are seniors and we always wanted to go,” he said. “Phoenix is a much more attractive area and the warmer climate is a lot better than Detroit and Nashville.”