Wednesday, October 02, 2002

UC ticket sales will measure interest

Timing, rival right for Nippert sellout

By Michael Perry
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Athletic director Bob Goin and coach Rick Minter are about to learn more about the fan base for University of Cincinnati football. If ever there was a time Nippert Stadium should fill up to watch the Bearcats, Saturday might be it.


        The opponent is longtime rival Miami University, which is to the football team what Xavier is to the men's basketball team.

        • The Bearcats' last “home” game was the thrilling loss to then-No.6 Ohio State at Paul Brown Stadium. Athletic department officials hope some of those in the stands Sept. 21 feel like they saw a good product and want to continue supporting it.

        • UC is nothing if not exciting. The Bearcats have rallied twice for victories and had both losses come down to the final seconds.

        • Miami and Cincinnati have exciting young quarterbacks (sophomores Ben Roethlisberger and Gino Guidugli) and typically high-scoring offenses.

        • It is the first home game since the UC students are back on campus.

        • The Bengals stink. The Reds' season is over, and basketball hasn't started yet.

        • It's not on TV.

        “The moon and the stars are lined up,” Goin said.

        Just as the Ohio State game was a measuring stick for the program, he said, this game will be a measuring stick for fan support.

        “Does it mean that we throw the towel in if we don't have 30,000 people here? No,” he said. “I'm not going to panic. Then we're going to say we have other stuff we've got to do.”

        In its previous five games at Nippert against Miami, there have been average crowds of 25,993, including two of more than 30,000 (2000, 1996).

        “I've always said, if this wants to be known as one of the best rivalries in college football, why isn't there standing room only all the time?” Minter said “Everybody should want a ticket to see this warfare, and I hope that's what develops for both schools.

        “If this thing's done right, maybe someday this could be a game that merits Paul Brown Stadium.”

        Nippert holds 35,000. UC averaged 27,162 for home games against TCU and West Virginia.

        Ticket manager Meagan Kantor expects a similar size crowd. She said 18,500 tickets have been sold for Saturday; 4,000 to 5,000 students are expected; and the first two games at Nippert each had walk-up crowds of about 4,000.

        There are signs of increased interest. The Monday after UC's 23-19 loss to Ohio State, the phones were ringing as soon as they were turned on, Kantor said. That was unusual for a non-home-game week.

        And two days ago, the ticket office sold 100 student guest passes; 10 to 12 are usually sold per day during the week of a home game.

        “I'm expecting us to be bombarded this week,” Kantor said. “The students being back is the biggest thing we've got working for us. And it's Parents Weekend. Of course, it should be sold out. It's just a matter of getting people here.”

        Goin, athletic director at Florida State from 1989-94, said the Ohio State game showed the city of Cincinnati a big-time college football atmosphere.

        Despite the loss, he said, it was good for Cincinnati and the football program.

        “I think that game ought to show the city that there's a university in the city that merits their attention, that's both the media and the public,” Goin said. “Our people have earned a right to have 35,000 at Nippert every game.”

        Said Minter: “It doesn't matter who we play, come out and support us. We're entertaining. Trust me.”


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vs. South Florida (3-4)
• 1:00 p.m. Sat. Nov. 20
• Nippert Stadium
• Radio: WLW-AM 700


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