Alvarez: Ticket demand for Badgers-Cornhuskers highest he’s ever seen in Madison
MADISON Barry Alvarez’s memory teems with Camp Randall Stadium moments.
They’ve accumulated over the last 21-plus years—16 as football coach and five-plus as full-time athletic director:
The back-to-back games against Michigan and Ohio State in the 1993 Rose Bowl season; the victory over Penn State in ’98 to clinch another trip to Pasadena; the victory over Iowa in ’99, which brought another Big Ten Conference title and a national rushing record for Ron Dayne; and the upset of No. 1 Ohio State last season.
Nebraska’s visit to Madison this week, the Cornhuskers’ first Big Ten game, could rise to the top of that list.
“I don’t remember any game with more anticipation than this game,” said Alvarez, who coached 102 games at Camp Randall Stadium and has seen his successor, Bret Bielema, coach in 38 more there. “There is no doubt in my mind that the demand for this ticket is higher by far than any other ticket since I’ve been here.”
Nebraska fans follow their team as well as any fan base in the nation, so Alvarez anticipates Camp Randall Stadium will be inundated by the “Children of the Corn.” Alvarez knows that as well as anyone. He played linebacker for the Cornhuskers (1965-’67) and acknowledged some of his tickets went to Nebraska followers.
“They’re going to find tickets,” said Alvarez, who is UW’s honorary captain this week. “They’re going to pay scalper’s prices. Those people are avid fans. I’m not going to worry about that. They’re not going to take over the stadium.
“But there will be an abundance of them.”
Nebraska officials received the standard ticket allocation of 3,000 for the UW game. They received more than 20,000 requests from season-ticket holders.
UW officials anticipate anywhere from 10,000 to 20,000 Nebraska fans will make the trip to Madison, regardless of whether they have tickets. Those fans are expected to be dressed in black so they stand out in the stadium and on TV.
“I’m excited to go to Madison,” safety Austin Cassidy said, “(but) I don’t really care what the fans wear.”
Nebraska athletic director Tom Osborne told Alvarez the Cornhuskers had a healthy cheering section when they played at Notre Dame on Sept. 9, 2000.
“He said when we took the field they had maybe 20,000 fans in the stands,” Alvarez said. “They found tickets.”
The highest price for a ticket on StubHub is $5,000 for a seat in the Buckingham Club. The most expensive ticket for an outdoor seat was $1,250.
Brian Moore, director of UW’s ticket office, told UW administrators in August that he couldn’t get his hands on a ticket no matter who was asking.
“It is the most in-demand ticket that any of us have seen here,” said associate athletic director Justin Doherty, who joined the UW staff in December 1994. “That comes from our ticket office, from my experience here and from Barry’s experience here.”
Festivities will be plentiful.
Nebraska officials have scheduled a rally at UW’s Union South, with more than 800 people scheduled to attend.
The alumni associations are planning a joint function to be attended by the governors of both states. Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany is scheduled to be on campus.
“It’s going to be busy as hell,” Alvarez said.
Badgerville, UW’s first-year endeavor held before home games on the grass practice field just north of Camp Randall, has a capacity of 5,000.
It is scheduled to open at 3 p.m. and will remain open through the game. Fans will be able to watch the game on two large-screen TVs. There is no admission charge to this area.
Alvarez wants Nebraska fans who do not have a ticket to have a comfortable place in which to watch the game. He doesn’t want a repeat of the ‘94 Rose Bowl, when hundreds of UW fans were victimized by ticket scams and milled outside the Rose Bowl with nothing to do.
“They want to be a part of history,” Alvarez said of the Nebraska fans. “They want to experience Madison. They want to see the campus. They want to be here to be a part of it.”