More than just the Iowa football team will be tested on Black Friday when the Nebraska Cornhuskers come to Kinnick Stadium.
So, too, will the current interest of Iowa fans, especially if the Hawkeyes (4-6) lose Saturday at Michigan. That would extend Iowa’s losing streak to five games and eliminate it from bowl contention for the first time since 2000.
The Iowa-Nebraska game is the day after Thanksgiving, and it’s likely that some fans from both schools will choose family gatherings over a football game.
The concern, though, is that many disgruntled Iowa fans may have decided to make a few extra dollars heading into the holiday season by selling their tickets online to Nebraska fans.
There is speculation that as many as 15,000 Nebraska fans will invade Kinnick Stadium for the Black Friday showdown. Kinnick Stadium has a seating capacity of 70,585, and all five of the previous home games this season were sellouts.
Tickets for the Nebraska game have been available for months at online marketplaces such as StubHub. There were 1,891 tickets available Thursday afternoon on StubHub, with some going for as much as $1,111.
“What can you do?” UI ticket manager Pam Finke said. “It’s a free market. It’s beyond our control.”
Longtime Iowa season ticket holder Ray Gilmore took advantage of the free market in late September by selling his two Nebraska tickets on StubHub for $250 apiece. Gilmore made about a $300 profit and he assumes the buyer was a Nebraska fan, but he isn’t certain.
“I knew the market was ripe and I was actually going to be out of town for Thanksgiving,” Gilmore said. “Nebraska fans are crazy.”
Gilmore’s plans for Thanksgiving have since changed, and it turns out he will be in town next Friday. He plans to tailgate before the game but has no regrets about selling his tickets.
“No, because I’ve already paid for one of my season tickets for next year with the money I made,” Gilmore said.
Nebraska fans already have gobbled up their allotment of 4,000 tickets that goes to the visiting team.
“I know the (Iowa) ticket was in very high demand,” said Keith Mann, who works for the Nebraska Sports Information Department. “The demand far exceeded the supply.”
Nebraska fans also have had a chance as of Monday to purchase about 160 additional single-game tickets that went on sale through the Iowa ticket office. Those tickets are for seats near the Iowa student section in the upper southwest corner of the south end zone.
Finke said that as of Thursday afternoon, there were still about 90 of those tickets available for purchase.
“Either they don’t know that they’re there or they don’t care,” Finke said of the Nebraska fans. “We’ve had them on sale to our guys for quite a while.
“It’s nothing that we put in the paper. If they call, we’ll sell them. But even at that, the most that would go out of our office would be those standing-room-only tickets in the student area.”
Nebraska is known almost as much for its fan support as it is for its success in football. Nebraska fans turned Ryan Field into their home away from home against Northwestern on Oct. 20 in Evanston, Ill., by filling up nearly half of the stadium, which has a seating capacity of 47,130.
Iowa played at Northwestern the following week and Gilmore saw signs of the Big Red takeover from the previous week still inside the stadium.
“The seats I sat in at Northwestern, there were Nebraska stickers on the seats where we sat,” Gilmore said. “They’re like a tom cat, they mark their territory.”
Nebraska could be playing for the Legends Division title next Friday, while Iowa could be trying to avoid closing the season with six consecutive losses.
Finke said her office has done everything it could to make tickets available for Iowa fans. She’s optimistic there will be another strong turnout by the black-and-gold faithful.
Iowa ticket holders have been encouraged on Twitter and on the Internet message boards to resist selling their tickets to Nebraska fans. But judging from the activity on StubHub, not everybody is listening. It’s also hard to know exactly who you’re dealing with on StubHub and where their loyalties lie.
“You would think it would be a matter of pride to people,” Finke said. “It’s good for people to know we’re not selling them to (Nebraska fans) unless they’re sitting up there in that southwest corner or unless there’s some little stuff that comes back to us late.”
Reach Pat Harty at 339-7368 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football