Move to Big 12 spurs bonanza in WVU ticket sales
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To get a better understanding of how anticipated the 2012 football season is at West Virginia, consider the unprecedented speed of ticket sales.
After moving 37,500 season tickets by the end of July -- 2,800 more than last year -- the marketing office opened single-game ticket sales July 31.
By the afternoon of Aug. 2, sales were suspended for every home game except Kansas, which went 2-10 last year and visits Dec. 1.
That's tickets for Marshall, Maryland, Baylor, Kansas State and TCU. Single-game tickets were not available for Oklahoma.
"We've sold out six of the seven home games. Really, I don't think we've done that before," said athletic director Oliver Luck. "It's actually very impressive and got me thinking why schools don't actually, in an organized fashion, change their schedule up now and again.
"People are excited because instead of the steady diet of Big East teams, there's now new teams to watch."
That, and a team that's being billed as a contender for the Big 12 title with at least two players -- quarterback Geno Smith and receiver Tavon Austin -- getting early Heisman Trophy mentions.
"Given the positive momentum, we did anticipate it, and, honestly, once we finished up our season-ticket sales in July and saw just how limited the quantities were for single-game tickets, we knew they'd go fast," said Matt Wells, assistant athletic director for marketing and sales.
Count Cassie Werner, 25, among the new season ticket-holders who wanted to make sure she wouldn't be left in the tailgating lots outside Milan Puskar Stadium.
A 2011 graduate of West Virginia, Werner has sat in the student section and with her parents -- also season ticket-holders.
"I thought it was the right time," said Werner. "I knew tickets were going to be in high demand this year ... and I ended up getting really, really good seats."
Werner, who works for a Morgantown law firm, bought two tickets and landed in the seventh row of section 129 on the Mountaineers' side. That's about even with the 10-yard line.
"I actually might hear [coach] Dana [Holgorsen] coaching. I might run down and high-five Tavon," she joked. "It'll be fun. I heard they were going quickly and I didn't want to miss out on the chance to get them."
A small number of tickets could become available in the weeks leading up to each game if road teams return any of their allotment. But, according to Wells, it is unlikely to be even a minor windfall.
Maryland took 2,500 tickets, Oklahoma took its maximum allotment of 3,850, Kansas State took 3,000, TCU took 1,400, Baylor took 1,100 and Kansas took 750.
"We don't anticipate any of the returns being anything huge," said Wells. "Look at Kansas, Baylor. Even if they return tickets, they don't have a ton. We don't expect to get anything back from Oklahoma."
So, right now, a fan would have to turn to an Internet site such as Stubhub to get a seat. Tickets are going for $169 a piece to play Oklahoma, but just $44 for Kansas.
With a capacity of 60,000, ticket sales break down as follows: a maximum of 38,200 season tickets, 12,500 for students, then add in road tickets.
Marshall, as part of its contract, gets a high 5,300, then the remainder are for what Wells calls internal usages: recruits player families, sponsorship packages, staff members, etc.
There was a stretch in the late 1980s when the stadium seated 63,000 and season-ticket sales eclipsed 40,000 before the first snap of the season.
But this is the second- or third-highest number of season tickets sold in the stadium's current configuration, said Wells.
What's been impressive is the speed.
"For this many games to be suspended this far in advance, early August ... we were a month before the season," he said. "There's not a time in recent memory that's happened."
NOTES -- Miami transfer Vernon Davis, a 5-foot-10 cornerback, said he plans to arrive in Morgantown Thursday to begin his Mountaineers career. Davis said Wednesday: "It's a good school, good program, good people. I thought it'd be the best fit for me." Davis will have to sit out a season under NCAA transfer rules.
First Published August 23, 2012 12:00 am