Virginia Tech Athletic Director Jim Weaver is confident there will be 15,000 to 20,000 Hokies fans in New Orleans for the 2012 Sugar Bowl, but he confirmed Friday afternoon that the athletic department will only be able to sell 10,000 tickets from its allotment of 17,500.
Weaver said the situation is similar to what Virginia Tech faced during its two previous trips to the Orange Bowl in that “the secondary market just kills you.” He also blamed the fact that the Sugar Bowl is being played on a Tuesday for the lower-than-expected ticket sales.
“It’s not what we hoped for, but when you have a game that’s midweek right after the holiday season, it’s very difficult for families with young children to miss more school. It’s also more difficult for people to get off work longer,” Weaver said.
“Our fans have gone to 19 straight bowl games,” he later added. “They’re savvy, they know how to get better seat locations at cheaper prices. We believe and we know we’re going to have a very good crowd. It’s just that they’re not buying their tickets from us.”
Weaver said even though Virginia Tech has taken some heat from national media in recent days because of its sluggish ticket allotment sales, he doesn’t think the Hokies’ reputation as a fan base that travels well to bowl games will be affected by the increased scrutiny on ticket sales this year.
Virginia Tech won’t have to pay for any of its unsold tickets since the ACC covers the cost once a league school sells 8,000 bowl tickets. But Virginia Tech announced a proxy program Monday asking fans to donate tickets that would then be distributed to military personnel and New Orleans charity organizations. The athletic department said it was a way to help maintain its reputation as a football program that travels well to bowl games.
Like Coach Frank Beamer, Weaver has no regrets that the Hokies may have been a controversial selection for the Sugar Bowl. In fact, he admits spending much of the Sunday following Virginia Tech’s ACC championship game loss to Clemson politicking ACC Commissioner John Swofford and Sugar Bowl chief executive John Hoolahan on behalf of the Hokies.
Weaver offered no complaints about the Bowl Championship Series selection process in general, saying, “The system is the system.”
“We could’ve said no, we don’t want to go and turn down $6 million for the conference, but I don’t think the commissioner would’ve been very happy with me if we would’ve done that,” said Weaver, before addressing the team’s fans specifically. “We’ve been there before. We understand it. We’re very … appreciative, the athletic department is, of our fans and what effort they make to go to the game, whether they get their tickets from us or they get them from the secondary ticket market. We respect their support.”