UNC's Belk Bowl ticket sales slightly behind 2009 rate
The North Carolina football team has settled into Charlotte in preparation for Saturday’s Belk Bowl against Cincinnati (3:20 p.m., ESPN). Now the question is how many UNC fans will be joining the Tar Heels for kickoff at Bank of America Stadium.
Assistant Athletic Director for Ticket Operations Tim Sabo said Monday the school has sold about 7,500 tickets of its 12,500-ticket allotment.
Sabo said that number is down “a little bit” from four years ago, which was the last time UNC played in the Charlotte-based bowl. Two potential reasons for that is the Tar Heels’ record — 6-6 this season versus 8-4 in 2009 — and the men’s basketball game Friday night at the Smith Center.
Still, Sabo doesn’t expect that number of tickets sold through the school to reflect the amount of support UNC will have at the game. The Belk Bowl sells tickets on its own, and there is also the secondary market.
“There are different avenues to get tickets, and our fans in Charlotte know that there are multiple ways to get them,” Sabo said. “So many of them are local and they buy them through the bowl. We’re still going to have a really good turnout.”
One issue with the setup of this particular game is that the Belk Bowl keeps the best tickets for itself to sell, and in some cases sells cheaper tickets than the school can sell.
“It doesn’t help,” Sabo said.
As of Tuesday afternoon, the best available tickets UNC could offer were in the lower corner, while the Belk Bowl was offering seats at the same price ($85) near the 30-yard line behind the team’s bench.
On the other end of the spectrum, the cheapest tickets (or the get-in price) through the school was $45 for an upper-section corner seat, while the Belk Bowl sells tickets high above the 50-yard line for $35.
Still, it doesn’t appear that UNC will lose money this year from bowl tickets. Sabo declined to give the exact number, but a source said that UNC is only responsible for the first 8,000 tickets in its allotment — the ACC will pay for the remainder of the unsold tickets.
Other schools are having a harder time selling tickets to their fan base. According to a report compiled by the Orlando Sentinel, Ohio State has sold 7,000 of its tickets to the Orange Bowl, LSU has sold 6,000 tickets to the Outback Bowl and Michigan has sold 5,600 tickets to the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl.
Stanford and Michigan State (Rose Bowl) and Rutgers (Pinstripe Bowl) are among the schools that have sold out their allotment.
Cincinnati athletic director Whit Babcock told Cincinnati.com that about 15,000 Bearcats fans attended last year’s 48-34 Belk Bowl win over Duke, and that he expects a similar level of support this year.
Duke coach David Cutcliffe said that the Blue Devils brought about 25,000 fans to the Belk Bowl last year, though only a portion of them bought tickets through the school.