Sugar Bowl ticket sales not too sweet so far


There are still about 5,000 UF tickets available for Tebow's final game as a Gator.

Brian W. Kratzer/Staff photographer
Published: Thursday, December 17, 2009 at 8:18 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, December 17, 2009 at 8:18 p.m.

In the past, a trip to the Sugar Bowl has been a hot ticket for Florida football fans. This time, it's gone cold. Ice cold.

With the Jan. 1 game against No. 4 Cincinnati (12-0) only two weeks away, No. 5 UF (12-1) is nowhere close to selling out the 17,500 tickets allotted to each school by the Sugar Bowl.

"We have about 5,000 to go (to sell out)," said Mark Gajda, UF's assistant athletic director of ticket operations.

Gajda said he thinks ticket sales have been slow for two reasons: the Gators' disappointing loss to Alabama in the SEC Championship Game and the sagging economy.

Interest in the Sugar Bowl has been lukewarm from a Gator fan base that was hoping (maybe expecting) its team to be in the BCS Championship Game in Pasadena on Jan. 7. It is reflected in the ticket sales.

"People really had their hearts set on the BCS Championship Game," Gajda said. "When we didn't make it, it was a little downer in some peoples' minds and they're simply not going (to the Sugar Bowl).

"Obviously, the economy (is a factor). It's the holiday season and people are making choices. I think people would have splurged a little bit if we were going to theBCS Championship Game. But we're not in that game and some people are scaling back and focusing on other things (to spend their money on).

"Our position is we're still in a huge game, we're still 12-1 and it's the last game for Tim Tebow and that great senior class. We would like our Gator fans to attend the game."

Usually, a trip to New Orleans and the Sugar Bowl is a tough ticket for UF fans, with the number of tickets they can purchase based on a booster priority. But sales have been so slow that Gator fans (or anyone else) can purchase as many tickets as they want.

The original deadline to order tickets (which go for $125 apiece) was last Saturday. The day before, the University Athletic Association sent out an e-mail to 500,000 boosters and fans announcing that the deadline had been extended to Wednesday and that there was no limit on the number of tickets fans could purchase,Gajda said.

Now, there is no deadline.

"It's open-ended right now," Gajda said. "We're going right up until the bowl game."

To try and spark ticket sales, Gajda said UF has taken out newspaper ads (including a full-page ad in The Sun last Saturday) and would have television and radio spots going up in the next few days.

"We're trying to get the message out," Gajda said.

UAA has extra motivation to sell the tickets. In the terms of the contract with the Sugar Bowl, unsold tickets must be purchased by the school.

If UF has to purchase, say 3,000 unsold tickets, UAA would be taking a $375,000 hit.

"A few thousand tickets adds up pretty quick," Gajda said.

Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or at andreur@gvillesun.com.

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