Bowl ticket sales lagging
By Ferd Lewis
Advertiser Staff Writer
A week before kickoff, ticket sales for the Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl are lagging well behind last year's pace and, barring a significant upturn, officials are concerned 50,000-seat Aloha Stadium could be half-empty for the national cable telecast.
WHO: Houston (7-5) vs. Hawai'i (8-5) WHEN: Dec. 25, 3 p.m. WHERE: Aloha Stadium TV: ESPN
Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl
WHO: Houston (7-5) vs. Hawai'i (8-5)
WHEN: Dec. 25, 3 p.m.
WHERE: Aloha Stadium
Ticket sales for the game are "in the low 20s (thousands)," according to executive director Jim Donovan. He said they are running well behind the pace that added up to 35,000 (30,000 through the turnstiles) for last year's inaugural game, which was put on with seven months' notice.
"I'm hoping there is a last-minute rush this last week," Donovan said.
Last year's walk-up sales box office sales on the final day were fewer than 2,000, bowl officials said.
The participating conferences, the Western Athletic Conference and Conference USA, each received $868,000 from the 2002 game, $118,000 more than the NCAA-mandated $750,000 minimum. Conferences distribute shares to the participating teams.
UH athletic director Herman Frazier has said the department "broke even" on last year's game and hoped to "make some this year."
But that was early, before ticket sales slowed. Donovan said sales for this year, which started slowly, dropped significantly last week.
"I'm perplexed," Donovan said.
Last week, UH coach June Jones also briefly held out the possibility the Warriors might not play in the game if their roster wasn't academically certified in time. But UH and WAC officials have since said certification will be taken care of and Hawai'i is committed to play.
The University of Houston is even asking its fans who can't attend the game to purchase tickets. For each $50 donated, the school will provide a ticket and red Cougar T-shirt to a member of the military in Hawai'i to form a booster section. A Houston spokesman said 850 tickets have already been sold that way and at least another 150 fans will be making the trip.
ESPN Regional Television (ERT), which owns the game, is in the second year of a four-year commitment to the bowl. It has contracts to take representatives from the WAC and C-USA.
Last year's game drew a cable audience of 2.1 million households.
Reach Ferd Lewis at firstname.lastname@example.org or 525-8044.