OMAHA, Neb. — Those Nebraska fans who famously travel anywhere to support the Big Red apparently are staying home in droves from the Capital One Bowl game against sixth-ranked Georgia.
The university’s ticket office has unloaded less than one-third of its 12,500-ticket allotment for Tuesday’s game in Orlando, Fla., and brokers have sold seats for as little as $9. Large blocks are available for far below face value.
Factors for the tepid interest? Could be the expensive air fares to Florida, the fact that No. 23 Nebraska is playing at the same bowl site for the second straight year or maybe all those road games this year left a lot of folks tapped out. There also appears to be a crisis of confidence among the fans since the Huskers’ 70-31 loss to Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship game.
“The general consensus is that the Huskers are going to get killed, so what’s the point?” Omaha radio sports show host Michael Grey said.
Brian Wragge, owner of the Arena Sports Bar & Grill, said he’s hoping people who decided to skip the bowl trip come to his place to watch the game.
Wragge said the Arena was filled to capacity of almost 300 for the Big Ten championship game. Since that disappointing night, he said, patrons haven’t been as eager to talk Nebraska football; the Huskers are 10-point underdogs to a Georgia team that almost knocked off Alabama to get into the BCS championship game.
“It’s tapered enthusiasm,” Wragge said.
Holly Adam, Nebraska assistant athletic director for ticketing, said the school has sold “right about 4,000” tickets after selling 7,000 for last year’s Capital One Bowl matchup against South Carolina. Seats sold through the university are priced at $87 and $93.
Georgia has reported its ticket office has sold more than 10,000 tickets. Capital One Bowl spokesman Greg Creese had no comment, citing bowl policy to not disclose ticket sales unless there is a sellout.
Some, but not many, Nebraska fans have gone through the secondary market to buy tickets at a cheaper price. Brett Franksmann, owner of Red Zone Tickets in Omaha, said demand is less than it was last year.
“I attribute it to being disappointed in losing to Wisconsin and not having the chance to play in the Rose Bowl,” Franksmann said. “I myself had a Rose Bowl trip booked, and we were going to take my whole family out there. After the Wisconsin game, we canceled and decided not to go to this game.”
Franksmann said Red Zone lost more than $10,000 on last year’s bowl because he couldn’t get rid of all the tickets he bought outright for face value.
This year he shouldn’t get hurt, he said, because he’s selling Capital One Bowl tickets on a consignment basis only.
Nebraska’s fan base has long had a reputation for traveling en masse — never more so than when 30,000 Husker faithful showed up at Notre Dame Stadium back in 2000.
This year, tens of thousands invaded the Rose Bowl for September’s game against UCLA, and half the crowd at Ryan Field in Evanston, Ill., was dressed in red for the game against Northwestern. There also were large followings at Ohio State and for the Big Ten title game in Indianapolis.
Ticket giant StubHub, on the other hand, reports “fairly high” demand for Capital One tickets, spokeswoman Shannon Barbara said.
She said her brokerage has sold more than 8,000 tickets, compared with about 6,000 for last year’s game.
About 250 people with Nebraska addresses have bought through StubHub for Tuesday’s game, she said, while more than 2,500 have been sent to fans in Georgia.
Chad Carr, owner of TicketExpress in Omaha, said he figured only a Rose Bowl bid would entice large numbers of fans to open up their wallets for yet another trip.
“When you go and look at those three road losses, and the fashion we lost those games in, combined with the same destination as we had last year, it just kind of led to the perfect storm of a little bit of disinterest in this particular game,” Carr said.