Iowa State has sold over 13,000 tickets to the Liberty Bowl.
That is a huge number compared to most of the other 69 schools that have sent or will send football teams to bowls this season.
The trick boils down to this: Have a location that is relatively easy for your fans to reach on relatively short notice, like Memphis is for Iowa Staters. Have a team that your fans feel good about. Have fans that haven’t grown weary or spoiled by going to too many bowls, many of them extremely expensive propositions.
Take Florida, for example. The Gators are going to their 22nd-straight bowl. They have had a bit of a football renaissance this season, going 11-1 and earning an invitation to the Sugar Bowl against Louisville. Yet, they have sold just 6,500 of the 17,500 tickets they are contracted to buy.
The Sugar Bowl is a prestigious game in a city (New Orleans) fun for fans to visit, but tickets are high-priced, accommodations aren’t cheap, and neither is travel.
Louisville, however, has sold 14,000 tickets to the game. Cardinals fans are happy and excited to be going there.
Some of the schools that have sold their allotments include Mississippi and Vanderbilt. Ole Miss is happy to be going to any bowl, and its fans have an easy trip, to Mobile, Ala., for the BBVA Compass Bowl. Vanderbilt is playing in the Music City Bowl. Vanderbilt is in Nashville. So is the Music City Bowl.
But as the previously linked story from the Orlando Sentinel notes, football powers LSU, South Carolina, Virginia Tech and Florida State aren’t moving a lot of tickets. Northern Illinois has actually out-sold Florida State for Miami’s Orange Bowl, but the two have combined to sell just 9,500 of their combined 35,000 tickets.
In the Big Ten, Michigan has reported good sales for the Outback Bowl. But Nebraska isn’t moving very many for its second-straight Capital One Bowl, and Michigan State and Minnesota could take a pretty good bath at the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl and Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas, respectively.
Wisconsin has about 9,000 tickets left from its allotment of 24,000 for the Rose Bowl, which is understandable given its the Badgers’ third-consecutive Rose Bowl appearance and its team is 8-5.
A big part of the problem is bowl games aren’t what they used to be. Too many of this season’s matchups are dull.
Jon Solomon of the Birmingham News has a good column about this here.
Drew Sharp of the Detroit Free Press concurs, saying the following in this column:
The overabundance of bowls has turned the entire experience into an unnecessary chore rather than a worthwhile endeavor. Aside from the national championship game and precious few exceptions this year, the bowl season has become a waste of time and consumer dollars.
Meanwhile, Rod Walton of the Tulsa World has an interesting piece on bowls, noting many companies who sponsored them in the past are now out of business.