LINCOLN — Business is booming in an unlikely place — the Nebraska men’s basketball ticket office.
“For the first time in a long time,” NU basketball administrator Marc Boehm said Tuesday, “there’s hope.”
The Huskers, who just finished a 15th straight season without an NCAA tourney bid, are on track to set what apparently is a school record for season-ticket sales.
As of Tuesday, public sales for the new Pinnacle Bank Arena were at 10,355. That’s a 49.7 percent increase from last season’s 6,917 at the Devaney Center.
“It’s pretty amazing,” Boehm said.
Neither of those totals includes student tickets. If NU — for the coming season — reaches the average of 1,500 in student sales it has the past 15 years, it would boost the count to almost 12,000 with six more months of sales time ahead.
World-Herald records show what is believed to be a school-record of 12,000 season tickets for the 1992-93 season — the third year of a four-year NCAA tournament run. University records, Boehm said, only indicate comprehensive sales totals to the general public, not to faculty, staff and students.
Husker coach Tim Miles said news of the ticket-buying burst is heartening.
“Pinnacle Bank Arena is a really exciting thing for our fans,” he said Tuesday. “The game-day experience is going to be better than ever.
“I hope our product on the court will be better than ever, too, with exciting play and success.”
This ticket surge comes at a time when Nebraska men’s basketball, besides the NCAA tourney drought, also has gone 63 years without a conference title and 14 without an NBA draft pick.
“The numbers have exceeded our expectations somewhat,” Boehm said. “Our internal goal going into Pinnacle Bank Arena was 11,000 season tickets sold.
“We hope to get to that, and more. And we’re not done. The goal is to sell it out with season tickets.”
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Besides the curiosity factor of the new $180 million arena driving demand, Boehm cited the enthusiasm of Miles and the affordability of tickets.
Nebraska, with eight scholarship players available, was picked last in the Big Ten on 23 of 24 preseason ballots. The Huskers finished 10th out of 12 schools, won six league games (five during the regular season, one in the league tourney) and finished 15-18 overall.
Miles has drawn wide-ranging praise for his sense of humor, public accessibility and blunt assessments of his team.
As for ticket prices, an upper-bowl season pass goes for as little at $85 for 17 games with no donation.
“We wanted to make it very, very affordable,” Boehm said. “When you can buy a season ticket for $5 a game, that’s a pretty good deal.”
The actual capacity for Pinnacle Bank Arena remains a bit in flux, Boehm said, awaiting a final count of suite seating. The number is expected to be near 15,200. The Devaney Center seated 13,595.
The seat counts and ticket availability for the three levels:
>> Lower bowl: 8,358. That will include student seating. So far, NU has sold 6,410 tickets to the public. Student sales will be determined in the fall. Only single tickets to the public remain.
>> Mezzanine (wraps around the suites and loge boxes): 2,065. So far, 98 percent have been sold. Only single tickets to the public remain.
>> Upper bowl: 4,108. Those are 32 percent sold.
>> Suites and loge boxes: About 600 to 700 seats.
All upper bowl seats are available without paying a donation, Boehm said, as are some seats in the mezzanine level.
>> NOTES: Nebraska sold 1,130 season tickets during its “21 Days of Husker Hoops” promotion. ... The opening-game foe at the new arena still hasn’t been determined. Boehm said “a couple of schools are in the hopper.” No announcement is expected until early summer. ... The Husker men will play 17 home games: one exhibition, seven nonconference and nine in the Big Ten. A second exhibition will be a closed scrimmage against a Division I team.
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