UF sours on Sugar Bowl ticket sales

With the Sugar Bowl just hours away, tickets to the game continue to be available in large quantities.

Signs around New Orleans offer fans the chance to buy discounted tickets, and according to a report from The Times Picayune released Tuesday, the Florida Gators failed to hold up their end of the bargain in ticket sales.

Each program was given an allotment of 17,500 tickets for the 79th annual Sugar Bowl. Florida, however, failed to sell even half of its allotment. As of Tuesday, only 7,000 of UF’s allotment had been sold, leaving more than 10,000 tickets available.

Gators coach Will Muschamp was questioned Tuesday about the apparent apathy from the Florida fan base. Muschamp quickly pointed to the large number of secondary markets selling tickets and its adverse affect on Florida selling its allotment.

“I think obviously right now, with the (economy), we’re going through a tough time in the country,” Muschamp said. “I think that certainly has affected everyone, not just Gator fans. And there’s different ways to get tickets other than going through the University Athletic Association. Obviously, we’re seeing a little bit of a loophole.”

In addition to the available secondary markets, the Sugar Bowl possibly could have lost its luster because of the matchup. Florida is a 13.5-point favorite over Louisville, not particularly enticing for some Gators fans who have recently shelled out large sums of money in Florida’s two national championship appearances, as well as a previous trip to the Sugar Bowl three years ago.

Despite the headache ticket sales have raised, Muschamp said he is more worried about game preparation, leaving the rest to administration.

“I worry about third down and stuff like that,” Muschamp joked. “I let Jeremy (Foley) worry about that.”

Someone in the UF administration certainly will be worrying about sales. Florida paid 2.3 million dollars for its allotment of 17,500. With approximately 10,500 tickets left, there is a large tab brewing.

The Southeastern Conference covers 4,000 tickets for bowls with a contracted ticket allotment of more than 15,000, meaning Florida could be on the hook to cover approximately 6,500 tickets, an estimated cost of more than $850,000.

Louisville has had a better showing, selling about 15,000 tickets, but still fell short of selling its full allotment. Still, Louisville coach Charlie Strong expressed excitement with the turnout.

“Our fans are really excited about getting to a BCS bowl,” Strong said.

The inability to sell full allotments is not a problem unique to the Sugar Bowl. Other teams around the nation have had similar problems, meaning changes to the system could be forthcoming.