Tickets remain for Capital Classic
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Tickets are still available at the Charleston Civic Center box office for Saturday's Chesapeake Energy Capital Classic basketball games between Marshall and West Virginia universities.
The women's teams will face off at 1 p.m. The men's teams will play at 7:30 p.m. Both games will be televised live on West Virginia Media Holdings stations across the state.
While upper level seats are still available for Saturday night's game, Marshall and WVU officials are optimistic the game might sell out by tipoff.
"We're hopeful that we'll have a strong walkup and have another great crowd for the Capital Classic," said Matt Wells, WVU's assistant athletic director for marketing and sales.
More about the Capital Classic
This year marks the 25th Capital Classic and the 22nd year in a row that the event has been held at the Civic Center. This is also the second year in a row that the game has been played in December.
From 1997 to 2012, the contests were played in January. But when WVU made its move to the Big 12 Conference, the organizers pushed back the annual event so that it would fall prior to the start of conference play.
However, the move also meant the game would no longer be played during the annual legislative session.
Lawmakers and lobbyists typically reserve large blocks of seats for the games, using the event -- and its associated pre- and post-game parties -- to rub elbows and wine and dine one another.
"In January, on a weeknight when the Legislature was in session, that place was rocking," said Aaron Goebbel, Marshall associate athletic director for external affairs.
While the January had been sellouts for several years running, last year's December game did not fare so well. The 11,512 in attendance was the smallest crowd since 1999.
Last year's men's game was also played on a Wednesday evening, the traditional night for the match up. However, this year, scheduling matters pushed the game to Saturday.
Goebbel said moving the game to a Saturday so close to Christmas has affected the pace of sales this year.
"This Saturday's always a very big Christmas party night, and people like to get shopping done as well," he said. "It definitely has affected (sales), but to the degree in which it's troubling or anything along those lines, it's not."
Goebbel said he was still hopeful Herd faithful would buy up remaining tickets.
One other schedule change this year involved the timing of the women's and men's games.
In most years, the men's and women's games were played back-to-back with one ticket covering admission to both. However, that led to a situation where many ticket holders would show up only for the men's game.
To boost attendance for the women's game, organizers split the Classic into a two-day event in 2011 with the women playing the night before. That allowed the schools to offer cheaper general admission for that game.
"We've had success with women's crowd in recent years," Wells said. "What we found is that when it's a doubleheader with back-to-back games and one gate, our women's crowd isn't as good as when it's a split event."
However, with the move to Saturday this year, schedules didn't align to make it a two-day event.
Instead, organizers decided to move the women's game up to 1 p.m. Fans with tickets to the men's game can attend the 1 p.m. game at no extra charge, while anyone wanting to attend the women's game can buy a general admission ticket for $7.
The Civic Center arena will be cleared following the game to make sure only ticket holders for the night game are allowed through the gates.
"We felt like it was important to make it a completely separate gate so we can sell a lower price-point ticket for women's basketball fans," Wells said.
Wells said that because the Civic Center is located right next to Charleston Town Center, fans hoping to attend both games should have no trouble passing the time.
"It's a great location to kill a few hours between games for sure," Wells said. "Obviously it's a convenient location if fans are going to attend both games and want to get a little Christmas shopping done or have dinner in between."
Both Marshall and WVU's alumni groups are planning to host alumni receptions prior to tipoff.
WVU's alumni event will begin at 5 p.m. in the Civic Center's North Hall. Mountaineer basketball great Hot Rod Hundley, the Mountaineer Mascot, WVU cheerleaders and the pep band will be on hand.
Marshall's event will begin at 5:30 p.m. in the South Hall and feature Marco, cheerleaders and the pep band. Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and first lady Joanne Jaeger Tomblin are expected to attend.
Upper level tickets are $32 at the Civic Center box office. Phone orders can be made by calling 304-345-SHOW.
Contact writer Jared Hunt at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-4836.