Is Memorial Stadium Expansion Saturating the Husker Football Market?

Eric Francis

With attendance likely to top 90,000 this fall for each game, is this upper limits of the market?

Holly Adam, the Huskers' assistant athletic director for ticketing, told Rich Kaipust of the Omaha World-Herald that they have received requests for over 2,600 of the 3,000 new regular seats being added to Memorial Stadium. Adam says the numbers are "fine"; I'm not so sure.

With under 400 seats still unclaimed, it's unlikely that the sellout streak is in any real danger. You have to figure that this article alone should remind folks to get their requests in, and maybe even catch a few people who were unaware that the process had already begun. But I'm surprised that the requests aren't exceeding the supply at this point. Ticket sales were announced nearly a month ago, so I expected quite a rush of inquiries. It comes down to the definition of "rush."

This process isn't a "first come; first served" queue. You make your request and indicate how much you would be willing to donate to get tickets. It's an auction. Offer to donate a lot, and not only do you move to the head of the line, you'll get better seats. Maybe even seats elsewhere in the stadium through the natural evolution of ticketholders. Some people pass away, and others move away. Some no longer can afford them. There's probably even a handful of Bo Pelini "haters" who'll refuse to renew their tickets. (Like that is going to make any difference, but it's their choice...) Some may even upgrade their tickets to new club or skybox seats, freeing up good seats.

But it does raise the question about the size of Memorial Stadium. With attendance likely to top 90,000 this fall for each game, is this upper limits of the market? Sure, when a Wisconsin or Michigan comes to Lincoln, Nebraska could easily sell another 50,000 seats if they existed. But for South Dakota State, 90,000 is probably too many. I'm sure many people would prefer to spend their $56 on something other than those tickets, if they had a choice. (And no, when the choice is between all eight games or none moving forward, nobody is going to say no to the South Dakota State tickets.)

Does this expansion meet all of the demand for Nebraska football tickets? Or could Nebraska reasonably support a bigger stadium capacity for all home games? I think we're approaching the upper limit; some cracks appeared in the ticketholder base during the Callahan years. I know a lot of people ate tickets during those years because nobody wanted them, and in fact, I even heard reports that the ticket office had tickets for sale during the season as the waiting list had disappeared. Now the stadium will be over 10,000 seats larger than that.

Nevermind that further expansion of Memorial Stadium is going to be difficult. Maybe something could be done in the south end zone, though the top row of South Stadium is AWFULLY far from the field. (Take this from a guy who once spent a season in row 98; I quickly realized how important a good pair of binoculars are with those seats!) The east and west stadiums are likely capped now, and the infrastructure around the north stadium probably makes further expansion unlikely there.

Is this the ultimate size for Nebraska football?

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