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Plan is working: Gophers tickets are hot

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So you think it’d be fun to see a Gophers football game this fall, watch an up-and-coming team in a new outdoor stadium?

Well you’d better be watchful — and lucky.

Here’s the deal:

The new (financial institution) Stadium seats just over 50,000, far less than the 60,000-something at the Metrodome.

About 35,000 of those seats will end up going to season ticket holders. Another 10,000 are allocated to student ticket sales. About 3,000 are offered to the visiting team, and the rest are for group sales and other athletic department uses.

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Notice none are for single-game sales?

"Their greatest chance to get a ticket is out of any unsold tickets returned by the visiting team," says Tom Wistrcill, the University of Minnesota’s associate athletic director for external affairs.

Two opponents, California and Wisconsin, have already said they will use all of theirs. As for the others, "sometimes they tell us in July, sometimes we don’t know until the week before the game," Wistrcill says.

No doubt there will be tickets available via the Internet. You know, those places where you can score tickets to a sold-out concert… at a premium price.

Gophers football tickets going for above face value? That’s beautiful music to the ears of the Wistrcill.

"That’s exciting for us, to make Gopher football a tough ticket," he says. "That’s why we bulit a 50,000 seat stadium, to create an environment.

"We can provide people what a college gameday experience can be like. It’s not ‘drive to the game, and drive home’, like our fans did when we played at the Metrodome. It’s ‘spend all day on campus, and sometime in there, there’s a game’."

Any complaints from fans who don’t want to — or can’t, for economic reasons — pony up the $275 it takes for a seven-game season ticket, Wistrcill says, "We haven’t heard anything. We’ve been telling people for two years to buy, buy, buy season tickets.

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"And our season ticket sales went up both years, including after this season."

Some seats in the new stadium require a donation — of $500, $250 or $100 — on top of the cost of the ticket. Season ticket holders have April and May to decide whether to make a donation, which then places them into seats of corresponding quality. About 20 percent of the stadium’s seats will require such a fee.

At the Metrodome, only 300 season ticket account holders paid a donation for seat location priority. Wistrcill’s estimate is about 2,000 will do so at (financial institution) Stadium, although it’s hard to say exactly how many seats that will represent because accounts hold varying numbers of seats.

Season ticket buyers will be placed in order of preference by a "Gopher point system."

"We have rewarded our long-time season ticket holders very well," Wistrcill says. Someone who has held season tickets for say 50 years — and there are more of them than you might think — has equivalent points to one who makes a one-time cash donation of $1 million.

"And you know there aren’t many of those around," he says, "especially in this economy."

Craig Swalboski, sports editor for the Post-Bulletin, tries to give readers a perspective they can’t get elsewhere in his "view from the press box." He can be contacted at swalbo@postbulletin.com

Page D6: Gophers finances OKso far

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