Sold out, UH asks for more Sugar Bowl tickets
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University of Hawaii officials are waiting to hear from the Sugar Bowl whether they can get additional tickets for the New Year's game after they sold out their allotment Tuesday.
This comes after UH settled for 4,000 fewer tickets than it could have had.
The Sugar Bowl organization called UH and the Western Athletic Conference before UH qualified for the Bowl Championship Series with a request to reduce the number of tickets from 17,500 to 13,500.
Athletic director Herman Frazier said the decision to accept the reduced number of tickets was based on estimated ticket sales of 12,000 to 13,000. "That's why we said yes," Frazier said.
The remaining 4,000 tickets shifted to the University of Georgia.
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Fifty-one-year-old David Loui is among a number of season-ticket holders frustrated that the University of Hawaii sold out its allotted Sugar Bowl tickets earlier than expected, creating anxiety for those intent on attending the Jan. 1 game in New Orleans.
Loui said this would not have happened had UH not underestimated demand and agreed to accept a reduced amount of tickets instead of the 17,500 offered to each Bowl Championship Series team.
As it happened, season-ticket holders, who got first crack at the UH tickets, swept them up in two days.
Now UH has requested additional tickets from the Sugar Bowl. Officials are expected to find out shortly whether any will become available.
"We are trying to do everything we can to accommodate as many season-ticket holders as possible," said John McNamara, associate athletic director for external affairs.
Meanwhile, season-ticket holders were placed on a waiting list. As of 11 a.m. yesterday there were fewer than 100 people on the list. Officials also will evaluate whether they can release some tickets reserved for team and university use.
For those who were not able to secure travel arrangements, UH is prepared to take back tickets, McNamara said.
Loui said UH's decision might force fans to turn to scalpers. Some Sugar Bowl tickets offered on the Internet were listed at four times the original ticket price of $125 to $145. Some tickets offered on eBay.com were posted at between $175 and $569 each.
The Louisiana Superdome has sold out its Sugar Bowl tickets but referred fans to a Ticketmaster Web site where tickets were available in the $256-to-$881 range.
Loui, who has been a season-ticket holder since the 1970s, said he planned to purchase tickets through a Koa Anuenue booster club member because they are given top priority for tickets. But he found out late Tuesday there were sold out. "It made me sick. I was just devastated," he said.
Luckily, Loui was connected to "a friend of a friend of a friend" who has tickets. Still, he said it should not have even gotten to that point.
Sometime before Sunday the Sugar Bowl organization contacted UH and the Western Athletic Conference and asked UH to accept 13,500 tickets instead of 17,500, UH athletic director Herman Frazier said in a phone interview from New York yesterday.
Frazier said that total fit with its estimates of sales between 12,000 and 13,000 tickets.
"That's why we said yes," Frazier said.
The remaining 4,000 tickets shifted to the University of Georgia, according to WAC Commissioner Karl Benson.
McNamara said, "Because we had no history with this type of event, it was impossible to calculate the demand from the season-ticket holders."
Decisions were made based on the best information at the time, he said.
The reduced ticket allotment also prevented UH from being liable for unused tickets. If it had failed to sell the 4,000 tickets, the university would have either eaten them at a cost of at least $500,000 or dumped them in the secondary market, Benson said during a phone interview from Colorado.
Benson said it is not uncommon for universities to trade tickets or provide tickets to one that might have a greater demand than the other. "So that's what happened," he said.
"There is always horse trading (of) tickets among schools for the bowls," Frazier said.
UH sold 8,500 of its tickets by Tuesday, two days after they went on sale. An additional 3,000 tickets were reserved for the team and university use. About 1,500 tickets were reserved for travel packages, and 500 tickets went to corporate partners.
Loui said the administration lacked faith in season-ticket holders and mainland fans to support the Warriors in the Sugar Bowl. "This is the first time," he said. "This is our first outright championship. There are so many firsts for this team. And to not have faith, not only to season-ticket holders, but to fans abroad, to make efforts to make it to the game upsets me greatly."