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WVU sells near-record number of season tickets

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - West Virginia University has sold a near-record number of season tickets as it looks forward to its inaugural football season in the Big 12 Conference.

Tuesday was the cutoff date for Mountaineer Athletic Club donors to renew their annual season tickets with the WVU ticket office.

Matt Wells, WVU assistant athletic director for marketing and sales, said university officials are pleased with the pace of those sales.

"Our renewal numbers are remaining strong," Wells said. "We're encouraged and excited about the response we've seen so far, and we certainly expect that to continue."

Through Tuesday, the university had processed about 24,000 season ticket renewals.

"That is ahead of last year's pace," Wells said. "At this same time we were at about 23,600 renewed, so we're 400 to 500 tickets up when compared to last year."

WVU has a priority seating system for donors to the Mountaineer Athletic Club.

The priority renewal system, which ended Tuesday, lets people contribute a "per seat" donation that secures a spot in a particular stadium section.

Donation levels range from $125 to $500 per seat. The bigger the donation, the better the seat.

In addition to priority donation increases, WVU's season ticket prices also went up this year.

Last year, season ticket packages cost $365 a seat for the seven-game home schedule; this year they're $395.

The WVU ticket office can sell a maximum of 38,200 season tickets each year. Last year, 34,750 were sold.

Only two years featured season ticket sellouts for WVU football: 2007 and 2008.

In 2007, fans were rallying around a team led by Pat White, Steve Slaton and Owen Schmitt. The 2008 season was White's senior season and followed WVU's upset victory over Oklahoma in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl.

WVU's renewal number this year lines up with sales figures from 2007 and 2008. In 2007, WVU renewed 23,799 season tickets; in 2008, WVU renewed 24,743.

Wells said it's a good signal that sales this year are on a par with those record-breaking years.

"The similarity between 2007 and 2008 and this year is a positive sign," he said. "I think the thing you add this year is the move to the Big 12 has create a lot of buzz and excitement."

In addition to renewals, Wells said the university has received more first-time Mountaineer Athletic Club donations and requests for additional tickets from prior donors than in prior years.

He said his department would be sending out and processing ticket forms to those two groups in the coming weeks.

Once they've processed those requests, the ticket office will start selling season ticket packages to the general public. Wells said those ticket sales, which will be sold only over the 1-800-WVU-GAME phone line, should start in mid-June.

After season ticket sales are complete and the university hears back from visiting schools about their ticket demand, officials will determine if they will offer some smaller, multi-game home ticket packages.

That's expected to happen sometime in July.

"Tickets not taken by season ticket holders and those not taken by visitors will determine what our mini-package availability will be," Wells said.

Single-game tickets aren't expected to go on sale until mid-August. This year, single-game ticket prices will go up by $5 each to $55, $60 and $80, depending on the anticipated demand for the game.

But Wells said it already appears that demand for one game - both from WVU and the visiting team - is so high that tickets may not be available: He said he expected the Nov. 17 game versus Oklahoma would not be available as a single-game ticket.

"We anticipate Oklahoma being a very high-demand game and only being available in the full-season or mini-package," Wells said.

That's the only game university officials are expecting to be available on the package-sale basis.

Wells said it's still unclear whether tickets to any other games will be sold that way.

"It's really way too early to speculate," he said, "other than to say we only anticipate the Oklahoma game only being available in season ticket or mini packages."

Contact writer Jared Hunt at jared.hunt@dailymail.com or 304-348-5148.


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