The travel packages are gone, and game tickets are dwindling, if not gone, too.
“We’ll be sold out,” of all 40,000 tickets, GoDaddy.com Bowl spokeswoman Julie Jeter said Thursday. “We’ve been sold out every year except our first year.”
Kent State’s Sunday game against Arkansas State in the 15th annual GoDaddy.com Bowl is of peak interest to Kent State fans as it is the first time KSU has been to a bowl game in 40 years and only the third time it has been to a bowl game in its 100-year history.
Alumni and friends rushed to snap up about 100 packages for tickets, hotels, pre-game festivities and more that KSU offered through Premiere Global Sports of Champaign, Ill., said KSU associate athletic director Matt Geis.
The events included everything from a Southern-style shrimp boil Wednesday to the mayor’s luncheon today with Larry the Cable Guy as guest speaker.
The packages to Mobile, Ala., were gone about 10 days after they were offered.
“I would say that our expectations were met if not exceeded,” Geis said. “If you haven’t been to a bowl game in 40 years you don’t know what to expect. We were pleasantly surprised.”
For 1975 KSU alumnus Jim DeVincentis of Pittsburgh, it is almost the event of a lifetime.
He was practicing with the KSU swim team in Fort Lauderdale when the Golden Flashes last went to a bowl game in 1972.
It was bad enough that KSU lost the Tangerine (now the Capital One) Bowl to the University of Tampa. It was even worse that it took the Golden Flashes 40 years to get back to a bowl game, he said.
“Athletics was successful. You think, ‘This is how it is,’ ” said DeVincentis, who co-owns a production company that makes Eat N Park and Auto Zone commercials. He’s flying to Mobile on his own on Saturday. “The fact that we made it this year is huge.”
Still, Kent State didn’t charter buses to ferry students to Mobile, an 830-mile trip in the midst of winter break.
KSU’s Geis said it was impossible to know how many students would go to Mobile when class was not in session.
“We thought about it,” he said. “But it would have been cost-prohibitive for students to take advantage of it. We would have had to have multiple [bus] drivers.”
That may have been the right call. Mike Beder, owner of the Water Street Tavern in Kent, and John Caparulo, a blue-collar comedian and KSU alumnus, offered to subsidize a student bus trip to Mobile.
But they didn’t get enough reservations for the $255 per-person trip so cancelled it last Friday.
The university sold game tickets to 50 KSU students at $20 each, less than half of the general admission price, Geis said. Students have to make their own travel arrangements.
KSU student trustee Chelsea Knowles of Kent is flying down Saturday.
“I wouldn’t miss it,” said the graduate student in public administration. “I’ve always been a fan of Kent State football and I’ve missed most of the season this year for various reasons. It’s just an exciting time.”
The Alumni Association has scheduled 12 watch parties nationwide on the night of the game. The Kent party is at the Water Street Tavern.
Kent State will make out, regardless of whether the team wins or loses.
The conference for each team will get $750,000, which will be divvied up among all the colleges in their respective conferences, with the bowl teams getting more of the share.
Carol Biliczky can be reached at 330-996-3729 or firstname.lastname@example.org.