H A W A I I _ S P O R T S


Thursday, December 16, 1999

WAC teams
struggling to sell
their bowl tickets

If the number of tickets being sold by the Western Athletic Conference participants in the upcoming postseason is any indication, the league might be in trouble.

Conference co-champions Texas Christian, Fresno State and Hawaii are taking part in the Mobile, Las Vegas and Oahu bowls, respectively. But ticket sales are lagging in all three games.

While Utah has sold more than 10,000 of its allotment of tickets to Saturday's Las Vegas Bowl, Fresno State has sold only about 5,400 and anticipates only selling a few hundred more before kickoff.

TCU sales for its Dec. 22 game with East Carolina have been negligible.

As for Hawaii, there were still about 7,000 tickets remaining at last count for the Christmas Day doubleheader at Aloha Stadium.

"I was hoping it would already be sold out, but maybe as it gets closer to kickoff more people will make plans to go the games," UH head coach June Jones said. "We want to have as big a home-field advantage as we can. And it would look good on national television for that thing to be filled."

Bowl Games Hawaii chief executive officer Lenny Klompus believes ticket sales will increase next week once all four teams arrive. The Aloha Bowl matchup between Wake Forest and Arizona State begins at 10:30 a.m. and will be shown nationally on ABC-TV. The Oahu Bowl matchup between Oregon State and Hawaii has a 3:30 p.m. kickoff and will be broadcast on ESPN.

"We need to sell as many tickets to these three bowl games as we can," WAC commissioner Karl Benson said. "Bowls need cheeks in the seats and we need to demonstrate as a conference that our fans will travel to these different bowl sites.

"Last year, TCU did a great job traveling to the Sun Bowl. And Fresno State fans generally travel with their teams. It was great to see all the Hawaii fans at San Jose State because it demonstrates that people will come see the Rainbows on the mainland."

If that only were true for here.

"I'm not too worried about it," Klompus said. "One of the problems is all that's left are end zone seats and maybe fans are waiting around to see if it will be sold out and shown on TV. But right now, the only way you're going to see both of these games is to buy a ticket and spend Christmas Day with us."

Injury update

The only Hawaii player not expected to be fit for duty in next week's Oahu Bowl is senior safety Phil Austin. He said on Monday that he had a hole in his hamstring and didn't think he would make it back.

Such is not the case for defensive lineman Matt Elam. He missed the last few games of the season with a stress fracture, but said yesterday he will be able to play.

"We've still got a few guys nursing some bumps and bruises," Jones said. "But we expect to have everybody up and ready to go next week. We're going to continue to have light workouts as we have all year. We won't have any practices in full pads."

No surprises

Jones and defensive coordinator Greg McMackin are well aware of what Oregon State head coach Dennis Erickson will try to do when the two teams face off in the Christmas Day doubleheader.

McMackin served as Erickson's defensive coordinator with the Seattle Seahawks and was part of his Miami Hurricanes staff as well.

"It's going to be tough to prepare for them because Dennis has a great offensive mind," McMackin said. "Knowing what they're going to do is one thing. Stopping it is another."

Jones and Erickson coached against one another last year in an AFC West meeting between Seattle and San Diego, a game the Seahawks won.

"We pretty much know what the other one is going to do," Jones said. "I don't think we're going to surprise each other. It just comes down to execution."

By Paul Arnett

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