Sports Notebook

Ticket sales slow for
Warriors’ opener

The crowd for tomorrow's Hawaii-Florida Atlantic football game will probably be the smallest for a UH season opener at Aloha Stadium since 1977.

Around 28,000 in paid attendance is expected, and complimentary tickets could push the total close to 30,000.

A gathering of 26,532 saw New Mexico beat Hawaii 35-26 to start the season on Sept. 10, 1977, as UH was coming off its first losing season in nine years.

Since then, the smallest attendance for an opener at Aloha Stadium was 35,248 for a 17-3 victory over Minnesota on Aug. 30, 1997.

As of yesterday, UH had sold 22,684 season tickets and a total of 3,327 individual tickets had been purchased, according to stadium and UH officials. Around 2,000 more tickets will probably be sold between last night and kickoff tomorrow.

The attendance for last year's home opener against Appalachian State was 42,996. The home openers in 1999 (USC) and 2000 (Portland State) were both 50,000 sellouts.

In 2001, Hawaii hosted Montana for the opener at Maui's War Memorial Stadium. Attendance was 12,863.

A total of 23,834 season tickets were sold for the 2003 season. The decline in this year's sales can be partly attributed to pay-per-view, a less attractive home schedule than last year, and an increase in ticket prices and premium seat donations.

Total revenue from season-ticket sales should go up from last year because of the price increases.

Athletic director Herman Frazier declined comment.

Pay-per-view sales figures were not immediately available.

Purcell, Owens OK: UH starting defensive end Mel Purcell seemed to be winning his battle with a sprained right ankle yesterday.

Coach June Jones and defensive line coach Vantz Singletary both said Purcell will likely start tomorrow, and Purcell ran yesterday and performed in drills without ill effect.

Jones said starting receiver and kick returner Chad Owens will start tomorrow despite missing practice Wednesday with a bruised hamstring.

Owls land: After a 10-hour flight, Florida Atlantic practiced at the stadium yesterday afternoon.

Senior running back Anthony Jackson said it was a good workout.

"Our travel plan was real effective. We got a lot of rest on the plane and I think we're used to the time change," he said. "We had fresh legs."

Jackson's family's home is in Delray Beach, Fla., which could be in the path of Hurricane Frances. Many other FAU players are in a similar situation.

"Of course we're worried, but once we get out on the field we have to put that aside and take care of business," he said.

Owls coach Howard Schnellenberger said yesterday was the first time he'd been to Aloha Stadium.

"What a beautiful place. It's got to be a bear with a full house and a bunch of crazy people cheering," he said.

Around 120 Owls fans arrived Wednesday. Freshman offensive lineman Jarrid Smith alone will have a support group of 26 relatives and friends at the game.

Nothing to fear: Hawaii has played only one other game against a team from Florida, beating Central Florida, quarterbacked by freshman Daunte Culpepper, 45-14, in 1995.

Three Warriors from Florida -- senior safety Patrick Jenkins, junior cornerback Turmarian Moreland and freshman linebacker Khevin Peoples --said they know several Florida Atlantic players from high school days.

"I played against about half of 'em," said Moreland, who is from West Palm Beach and was recruited by FAU. "I know they've got a lot of speed. But we've got our technique down, so if we just make the right plays we'll be all right."

Owls tight end Anthony Crissinger-Hill and safety Cameron Rodgers were teammates of Peoples' at Jefferson High School in Tampa.

"They're both cool guys," he said.

Jenkins remembers playing against injured FAU center David Guffey. Both are from Orlando.

"There's a lot of talent coming out of Florida, but we know how to stop them," Jenkins said. "We've been game-planning them for a while now. They're going to give us a good challenge, but we'll stop 'em."


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