The southeast lawn of the Sun Dome was transformed into “Leavitt-Town” on Sunday night. An estimated 1,500 students formed a tent city in hopes of obtaining one of the 12,501 student tickets available for Friday’s football game, in which the No. 18 Bulls face off against No. 5 West Virginia Mountaineers.
Box offices opened Monday at 6 a.m. and were slated to stay open until 7 p.m., but closed 30 minutes early when the student sections sold out.
“I thought it was unlikely we would sell out (the first day),” said Bill McGillis, senior associate Athletic Director. “I thought we would go through 8,000 – go through the bottom bowl … between 6 (p.m.) and 6:30 (p.m.) is when the student allotment ran out.”
Though tickets will no longer be available at the Sun Dome, there are still seats available.
A small number of tickets were on hold for students attending the satellite campuses, and around 50 tickets remain as part of special three-game packages that include Friday’s match-up.
Once those satellite tickets are sold, officials estimate that between 12,501 and 12,525 student tickets will be sold for Friday’s game.
While around 120 tents sprawled across a grassy area next to the Sun Dome on Sunday night, three University Police officers were diverted to keep an eye on the tent city while one officer maintained a routine patrol, according to UP officials.
“We expected a couple hundred (people); what we got was a couple thousand,” said UP Officer Edward Lutz.
UP officers weren’t the only people surprised by the turnout.
Mechanical engineering senior Nick Frye said he had planned to buy his tickets later Monday, after his 9:30 a.m. Heat Transfer class.
“I knew there weren’t going to be 12,000 people out here,” he said. “I heard they had a bonfire and a lot of people out there so I decided to come for the experience.”
After staying up all night to get his ticket, Frye still planned on attending class.
Management and finance junior Tom Greene arrived at the Sun Dome at 2 p.m. Sunday to stake his claim as the first in line.
Carrying his tent, he walked through the doors to claim his prize 16 hours later after nothing more than a catnap.
“It’s been a long night,” he said. “I slept maybe 30 minutes.”
It is experiences like these that McGillis hopes to help maintain.
Though plans are underway to move to an online purchasing system for student tickets, McGillis said he hopes to keep the system fair. Under consideration is a reward structure that would grant tickets to students who have attended more sporting events and a hybrid structure that would combine online and in-person ticketing, he said.
“We don’t want to lose the energy of what we had last night,” McGillis said. “I think everyone will be talking about it for the rest of the week.”