With the expected financial boon on the horizon, the Maryland football team has already begun reaping the benefits of its school’s move to the Big Ten, increasing ticket sales by more than 5,000 as of May 9, according to a graphic released by the athletics department this week.

While it’s unclear whether linebacker L.A. Goree is preparing to welcome those new fans with giant bear hug or tackle them straight into the ground, the 34.9 percent growth reflects a groundswell of excitement over a new, unfamiliar slate of conference opponents as well as the enthusiasm from Big Ten alumni who do not regularly see their teams in person. This season, the Terrapins will host James Madison, West Virginia, Ohio State, Iowa, Michigan State (in prime time on the Big Ten Network) and Rutgers.

As the athletics department climbs slowly towards financial independence, the ability to sell football season tickets will directly correlate to the rate at which Maryland reaches the black. Last August, for instance, a Maryland spokesman reported that the school had sold 17,339 football season tickets, a 10 percent increase from that time in 2012. As of this May, the Terps have already surpassed that number.

“I am optimistically encouraged,” Athletics Director Kevin Anderson said then. “I will say that I know we can do even better. Going into the season, and what we’ll be able to do on the field, will just encourage people to look at purchasing tickets. I’ve been telling my staff and everybody, I hope the folks who have given up on us, they look at us and at least give us another chance. At least those who are waiting, I hope they don’t wait too long. Going into the Big Ten, I know we’re looking at increased ticket sales.”

Overall prices for the six home games declined, according to a seating chart for Byrd Stadium released in February, but remained relatively constant on a per-game basis.  Last season, the Terps ranked around the middle of Football Bowl Subdivision teams in average home attendance (38,878).

“We’re in a position where it’s unknown territory,” Matt Monroe, the assistant athletics director in charge of ticket services, said in February. “We’re going into a conference where we’re playing teams we haven’t played before. We expect a demand and we’ve already seen that, but no one knows the type of demand we’ll have in the summer and leading up to the season. We can project it, but it’s unknown territory.”