Saw a piece in the Penn State paper this morning about how sales for the TicketCity Bowl in the Cotton Bowl are "struggling," at least when it comes to dispensing with Penn State's allotment of 6,000 ducats for the January 2 face-off against Houston. So I called over to the game's Las Colinas Boulevard HQ to see if that's right, to which director of internal affairs Monty Clegg said: Well, hold on just a second.
"From the Penn State perspective, I can't speak to that," he told Unfair Park. "I've heard it's slow over there. But from my point of view, sales have been steady and brisk and consistent and up from last year and very positive. For us to say we're gong to fill a 92,000-seat Cotton Bowl, unless we have Texas-OU, that's probably not going to happen. But from my perspective, I'm pleased."
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Clegg and president and CEO Tom Starr say they sold around 42,000 tickets for last year's inaugural game featuring Texas Tech and Northwestern; they both insist they expect to do better with Penn State and Houston. The reason for that optimism: "Our pre-sales are up from last year," says Clegg. "And hopefully it'll be a good day and we'll have good walk-up." He and Starr both point to a long-range forecast showing January 2 to be sunny and 60 degrees. "But you know what that means in Texas," says Starr.
The founder of the bowl says the fact is, ticket sales are down for bowls across the country; anyone see the half-empty house for TCU-Louisiana Tech last night? "It's the economy," says Starr, plain and simple. Then, with Penn State, you get that extra bit of baggage, what Clegg refers to as the team's "interesting situation."
"I know they're struggling at the university," Clegg says. "But struggling is 180 degrees from what we're experiencing in-house and online."
Starr says the TicketCity Bowl's real problem isn't ticket sales, but finding corporate sponsors; he calls it their "Achilles' heel" and the real roadblock to long-term viability. "We just haven't struck a chord in Dallas yet. We're in last place in the bowls in raising corporate sponsors. We've had people who've sold for the Super Bowl and the Cotton Bowl and the Cowboys, and they're hitting brick walls for whatever reason. ... And, sure, I wish we could have had a few more years to raise money. But I have every hope this year will be better than last, and next year will be even better than that."