2013 Bowl Championship helped sell 2012 Orange Bowl seats
By Rachel Tannenbaum
Orange Bowl football tickets sales by the Orange Bowl Committee for the Jan. 4 game accounted for about 71,000 tickets, according to a committee official — although participating schools gave away thousands of tickets they couldn't sell.
Those sales will be a great lead-in for next year's double hosting of the Orange Bowl Game and the Discover BCS National Championship Game, said Larry Wahl, Orange Bowl Committee vice president of communications and community outreach.
"We increased our sales significantly this year over the last two," Mr. Wahl said. "We were just shy of a sellout."
Ticket sales for the 2010 and 2011 game failed to reach 70,000 each year, an unusual turn of events for one of college football's premier games and one of South Florida's signature events. Sun Life Stadium, where the Orange Bowl game is played, has a capacity of about 72,320.
Mr. Wahl said reasons for the increase of sales are twofold.
This, he said, was the first full year of a ticket sales group, headed by Dawson Hughes, formerly a sales executive with Major League Baseball's Kansas City Royals. Mr. Hughes and his group were hired midway through 2010, when he was added as vice president. Three other full-time ticket sales representatives and a team of seasonal sales people were also added.
"Dawson was able to fully implement several new sales initiatives this year, the first full year of his group," Mr. Wahl said.
Secondly, next year the Orange Bowl Committee will host both the Discover Orange Bowl on Jan. 1 and the Discover BSC National Championship on Jan. 7.
"Part of our sales pitch for this year was that the purchase of tickets for the 2012 game will ensure the opportunity to purchase tickets for the championship game next year, as well as next year's Discover Orange Bowl," Mr. Wahl said.
Although Mr. Wahl said
the Orange Bowl almost
sold out, both
participating universities, Clemson and West Virginia, barely sold
half of the
tickets allotted to them. Each school was allotted 17,500 tickets and the Orange Bowl Committee helped assist the universities in distributing tickets to ensure they were used.
West Virginia sold 7,802 total tickets, including the about 1,200 purchased by university donors and fans to support the Tickets for Troops program, said Matt Wells, director of sports marketing.
"We, WVU Athletics, donated an additional 1,800 tickets from our allotment to the Tickets for Troops program, bringing the total distributed to 3,000 tickets," Mr. Wells said.
For the second year, West Virginia has partnered with the Arizona-based Veteran Ticket Foundation, a national nonprofit, non-government organization that donates tickets to active and retired military veterans, for the school's bowl game. Since its creation four years ago, The Veteran Ticket Foundation has been able to offer 293,816 tickets to active and retired military veterans.
Clemson also ended up using about 8,000 of its tickets and the Orange Bowl Committee distributed another 8,000 from Clemson's allotment, said Travis Furbee, assistant athletic director of Clemson University Athletics.
"We distributed them to nonprofit organizations, youth groups, military personnel and first responders," Mr. Wahl said. "We helped ensure seats were used."
Between tickets sold by the Orange Bowl Committee, both schools and the tickets for the nonprofit organizations, Mr. Wahl said attendance was 67,563.
The Orange Bowl is one of five top Bowl Championship Series games, including the national championship game. The others are the Sugar Bowl, the Fiesta Bowl and the Rose Bowl, with the championship game rotating its venue every year. The Orange Bowl will host both games again next year, and Mr. Wahl said expects both games to bring in large crowds.
"There will be two weeks of impact next year between the two games, especially for the second week," Mr. Wahl said. "We will be the center of college football next year."
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