The Virginia Tech athletic department opened up football season ticket sales to the public Monday after donor purchases regressed for the first time in “at least six years,” according to Sandy Smith, the school’s assistant athletic director for ticketing services.

Smith said approximately 1,500 donors declined to renew their season tickets this offseason, and unlike previous years, there were not enough new donors looking to purchase tickets to offset the losses.

But Smith added that after just one day of public sales, only 500 season tickets remain.

“I don’t anticipate us having anything left; it’s just during the last six years only donors could purchase tickets,” Smith said. “Over the past 12 years, we haven’t really sold any tickets to the public.”

Heading into the 2011 football season, Virginia Tech has a streak of 81 consecutive sellouts at Lane Stadium, which seats 66,233. The Hokies were one of 18 schools in the country, and the lone ACC team, to sell out all of its games in 2010.

The sellout streak dates back to Virginia Tech’s final home game of the 1998 season against Virginia but is nowhere near the longest active streak in college football. Nebraska currently has a 311-game sellout streak at Memorial Stadium, an NCAA record that started in November 1962.

Smith said he couldn’t recall exactly how often since 1998 that Virginia Tech season tickets were made available to the public, but “it’s been awhile.”

“It’s the economy,” Smith said. “I think people hung on last year anticipating the economy would recover in a year, and I don’t think it has for a lot of people. We’ve had a lot of people who’ve lost their jobs, and went ahead and ordered tickets thinking they’d have a job. … I think it’s affected every school in the country.”

Season tickets are $288 for the 2011 season, and include home games against Appalachian State, Arkansas State, Clemson, Miami, Boston College and North Carolina. They can be purchased at