Probably the strangest game on the college football season schedule is Alabama playing at Duke on Sept. 18. When the game was originally scheduled, Alabama had hoped to convince Duke officials to move the game to Charlotte or another neutral site.
But when Alabama alum, former Ole Miss coach and Tennessee assistant coach David Cutcliffe took over as Blue Devils coach, he put a stop to the possibility.
The TRIANGLE (Raleigh-Durham) BUSINESS JOURNAL reports
In years past, the Blue Devils have “sold” home games against big-time opponents – a practice in which the home team moves a game to a neutral location or the opponent’s home field in exchange for a payment. And there were opportunities to do that again this year, including moving the Alabama game, but Duke made a statement by declining.
“We were courted. We were asked,” says Duke coach David Cutcliffe, whose arrival three years ago has revitalized what arguably was the nation’s worst football program. “This game belongs here.”
Apparently keeping the game at 33,000-seat Wallace Wade Stadium in Durham along with Duke’s gradual improvement under Cutcliffe has led to an unprecedented surge in 2010 season ticket sales.
The RALEIGH NEWS-OBSERVER reported last week:
For the first time in at least a decade, Duke has sold out of football season tickets … for a school that hasn’t posted a winning season since 1994, the run on season tickets in Durham is a big deal.
The Alabama game has drawn so much excitement that the Blue Devils will add up to 3,900 seats in the end zones and the concourses for the matchup, increasing Wallace Wade Stadium’s capacity to 37,841.
Two months ago the Triangle Business Journal pegged Duke season ticket sales at 14,500. With the News-Observer reporting last week that season tickets have sold out, one assumes that previous figure increased considerably in the interim. (The record for Duke football season tickets was reportedly 12,000 in ‘94.)
So did Alabama fans and ticket brokers snap up Duke season seats - at $200 total for seven home games - just to have precious entry into the tiny stadium for the Crimson Tide’s visit to Durham? And are there actually single-game tickets left for the Alabama game?
From the News-Observer last week:
It’s unclear how many of those Duke season-ticket seats will go unused during the six home games not involving the Crimson Tide, the preseason No. 1. The hope, Corrigan said, is that the stands will continue to fill as interest in the team - which won four games under Cutcliffe in 2008, and five last season - continues to grow.
Single-game tickets are still available for all seven Blue Devil home games. However, to snag a seat for the Alabama game, there is a catch: You must be a member of the Iron Dukes booster club to purchase one. A $100 membership allows fans to buy two tickets in the extra seating, at least until those sell out as well.
Safe to assume that many of those season tickets were bought to secure a seat to the Alabama-Duke game and if there are any single game tickets left, the $100 membership fee will be gladly advanced by game patrons and scalpers.
So although Duke could’ve probably made out with a nice payday had the game been moved to Charlotte or another location, Cutcliffe’s call to keep the game in Durham will not only pay off financially but also secure home-field advantage and perhaps lead to people attending other Duke home games they otherwise never would’ve considered.