Vols ticket sales are expected to be near 100,000 Saturday

Vols ticket sales are expected to be near 100,000 Saturday

October 13th, 2017 by David Cobb in Sports - College

There were many empty seats in the student section of Neyland Stadium by the fourth quarter of Tennessee's narrow win over Massachusetts on Sept. 23.

Photo by Robin Rudd /Times Free Press.

KNOXVILLE — Tennessee is anticipating to sell close to 100,000 tickets for Saturday's noon home game against South Carolina, even as unrest grows among the fan base about the direction of the football program.

An athletic department spokesperson said Thursday that more than 96,000 tickets had been sold. That number is expected to increase as kickoff nears for the fourth home game of the season.

Noon games are traditionally a harder sell to college football fans, especially students.

More than 10,000 student tickets have been made available for this week's contest, but the number of student tickets purchased was not available Thursday, because students are expected to continue buying them until close to game time. Their seats are in the southeast corner of Neyland Stadium and cost $10 per ticket.

A look at recent history shows that nearing 10,000 student ticket sales for Saturday's game would be a coup.

Tennessee hosted Kentucky in a noon SEC game last November with temperatures in the low 50s. There were 101,075 tickets sold, though just 6,792 of them went to Tennessee students. At that time, the Vols were 6-3.

As temperatures dropped and a potential SEC East title slipped away from Tennessee last season, student attendance fell. More than 11,000 were at early-season games against Appalachian State and Florida, but fewer than 7,000 attended each of the final three home games, which were against Tennessee Tech, Kentucky and Missouri. All were games won by the Vols. The Kentucky game was the only noon game in that stretch.

The number of student tickets made available for home games is swayed by a number of factors, including game times, weather, the opponent and other factors such as breaks in the academic calendar.

Students bought 12,211 of 13,030 available tickets for this season's first home game against Indiana State, a 4 p.m. start. For the Massachusetts game at noon two weeks later, students purchased 7,100 of 8,904 available tickets. There were 95,324 total tickets sold for that contest, although the stadium thinned out considerably as the game progressed.

Two weeks ago, students purchased their entire allotment of 10,974 tickets for an afternoon home game against undefeated Georgia. A sold-out crowd of 102,455 filled Neyland Stadium for what turned out to be a 41-0 loss to the Bulldogs.

That defeat has sparked some dissension among Tennessee supporters, and attendance could become a factor in any decisions the university administration makes this year regarding the future of head coach Butch Jones, who has led Tennessee to three straight bowl victories but has yet to win the SEC East.

Football ticket sales account for 21.7 percent of the athletic department's $134 million budget, according to an overview of the 2017-18 budget. It's the department's second-largest source of income behind SEC/NCAA distributions, a category that includes money from television-rights deals and comprises 29.9 percent of the department's budget.

Gifts to the Tennessee Fund are the third-largest category, comprising 21.2 percent of the income.

Contact David Cobb at dcobb@timesfreepress.com.

Tennessee football attendance figures

2016

Appalachian State | 7:30 (Thursday)
Official attendance: 100,074

Student tickets: 11,035 available, 11,035 sold

High 80s, 40 percent chance of rain

Ohio | 3:30
Official attendance: 101,362

Student tickets:

9,002 available, 8,411 sold

High 80s and sunny

Florida | 3:30
Official attendance: 102,455

Student tickets: 11,112 available, 11,112 sold

Low 90s and sunny

Alabama | 3:30
Official attendance: 102,455

Student tickets: 10,996 available, 10,996 sold

High 70s and sunny

Tennessee Tech (homecoming) | 4:00
Official attendance: 98,343

Student tickets: 9,529 available, 6,396 purchased

Low 70s and sunny

Kentucky | noon
Official attendance: 101,075

Student attendance: 9,368 available, 6,792 sold

Low 50s and brisk

Missouri | 3:30
Official attendance: 101,012

Student attendance: 7,518 available, 6,487 sold

Low 50s, overcast and windy

2017

Indiana State | 4:00
Official attendance: 99,015

Student attendance: 13,030 available. 12,211 sold

70s and sunny

Massachusetts | noon
Official attendance: 95,324

Student attendance: 8,904 available, 7,100 sold

80s and sunny

Georgia | 3:30
Official attendance: 102,455

Student attendance: 10,974 available, 10,974 sold

70s and sunny