University of Miami

Miami Hurricanes expect bigger crowds at home games

The good news for University of Miami football fans: season-ticket sales are up more than 6,000 for a program that badly needs to put more bottoms in the 75,542 seats at Sun Life Stadium.

The not-so-good-news for those eager to buy individual tickets to see the Hurricanes take on the 10th-ranked Florida Gators on Sept. 7 at Sun Life:

Forget it.

Unless you peruse the after-market or buy Miami season tickets, which are still available, you’ll be watching on TV.

The Hurricanes’ jump from 22,800 season tickets in 2012 to the 30,000 they expect to be sold by the Gators game “is the largest year-to-year growth we have on record,” said Chris Freet, UM’s associate athletic director for communications and marketing.

UM announced it had sold out of the single-game tickets on July 26. Freet said that Rick Remmert, director of UM Alumni Programs, told him “he can’t remember a time when we’ve sold out single-game tickets as early as we did Florida.”

The Hurricanes will add 1,313 seats for the UF game, the same seats used for the BCS National Championship game this past January between Alabama and Notre Dame. Those single-game seats, which will bring the capacity to 76,855, have already been sold.

“They’ll go right behind our bench and continue all the way down to the field,” said UM athletic director Blake James of the extra seats. “The game is going to be sold out.”

Among the remaining seats, 12,500 of them contractually obligated to UF, another 9,500 are reserved for UM students — with the rest of the single-game seats sold on a priority basis to donors and/or group sales, Freet said, adding that “more than 500 season-ticket packages were sold last week.’’

A very small amount of individual seats could possibly be made available for the UF game should they not be sold for season-ticket packages.

“They’d be individual seats,” Freet said, “meaning one seat in a section. I do not think we’ll have any pairs or groups of seats together.”

All four tarps that usually cover about 9,000 seats in the upper bowl for regular games will be removed for the Gators, though the tarps will likely go right back on for the other games.

“Hopefully with success, as I think we all recognize in this market, more and more people come out and support the team,” James said. “If that’s the case we’d continue to take the tarps off.”

It’s no secret that Sun Life Stadium seemed nearly empty much of the time last season. UM lists the official average paid attendance for 2012 as 47,719.

The last football sellout for the Hurricanes, Freet said, was the 2010 Florida State game: 75,115 strong.

The Hurricanes have attempted to build attendance by reorganizing the seating plans and lowering ticket prices in certain areas on the north and west sides of the stadium.

The student section, which was previously located in the west end zone, was shifted to the north sideline to the 40-yard line behind the visiting team bench.

The students get better seats, and TV viewers see more fans while they’re watching the game.

“I think we’ve taken some great steps,” James said.

FAU game

As for the season opener at 8 p.m. Aug. 30 featuring FAU, be assured that plenty of tickets remain.

Freet said he was optimistic but that it was “too early to put a number” on that game. “Our biggest uptake in sales is going to come next week.”

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