This time last year, the Gopher football team was coming off a winning season and entering its first year of play at the newest stadium in college sports.
But one year after football’s highly touted return to campus, student ticket sales are slumping.
The University of Minnesota has currently sold about 5,500 of the 10,000 student tickets available. That’s roughly 1,000 tickets behind last year’s sales at this time.
“Last year we were completely sold out before school even started,” Jason LaFrenz, associate athletic director of external relations, said. “It might take us a little bit longer, but I think we will sell them out.”
For some students, however, excitement over the new stadium isn’t enough to overlook the team’s poor performance.
“I’ve just given up on this football team,” said University graduate student and former season ticket holder Carl Mullen-Schultz. “I’ve decided to focus on our basketball team.”
While the new stadium helped to elevate student ticket sales, the University is still well behind the demand for tickets at other Big Ten goliaths.
Ohio State, for example, has no problems selling out its student section, which is three times the size of the 10,000-seat section at TCF Bank Stadium.
Its 30,000 tickets are divided and sold to four different groups based on course credits, and each 7,500-seat pool of tickets usually sells out in less than 36 hours, said Bill Jones, Ohio State’s associate athletics director of external relations.
“I would say we could easily sell more than 45,000 [student season tickets],” Jones said, adding that in addition to culture and tradition, success is a big part of ticket sales.
Last year, Ohio State finished atop the Big Ten standings, while Indiana finished at the bottom. But despite winning just one game in Big Ten play last year, Indiana student ticket sales were near all-time highs.
Through its first five home games, Indiana averaged student section sales of 10,184. In its final game of the season against Purdue, it sold about 15,200 tickets, which was its largest student crowd since 1989, Indiana spokesman Jeff Keag said.
In August, the University of Minnesota will begin selling tickets to incoming freshmen students and new graduate, professional and transfer students, for whom it typically budgets 2,000 tickets.
In addition, the University has instituted a new student guest pass. The ticket offer was developed primarily for graduate students with spouses and children who are not students.
The offer, which is available only for student section ticket holders, began on July 22 and has sold more than 50 tickets.
Sales throughout the rest of the stadium have stayed strong into year two.
General seating season tickets were renewed by 93 percent of ticket holders, LaFrenz said.
More than 98 percent of Ohio State season ticket holders renew their tickets annually at Ohio Stadium, which has a capacity of 102,329.