Organizers of the Big Ten Conference football championship game are facing third-and-long in their quest to fill Lucas Oil Stadium for Saturday night’s matchup in downtown Indianapolis.
A trip to the Rose Bowl is at stake in the title contest between the University of Nebraska Cornhuskers and the University of Wisconsin Badgers.
But just a few days before kickoff, a glut of tickets remains available on the secondary market—1,500 alone on Stubhub—and are selling for as little as $20 each.
Each school also was given 15,000 tickets to sell to students, with both returning an undetermined amount, said John Dedman, spokesman for the Indiana Sports Corp.
Demand for suites is soft, too. Indianapolis Colts suite holders get first dibs to watch Saturday’s game from their private rooms by paying from about $4,000 to $10,000. Of the 140 suites available for the game, a little more than half have been sold, Dedman said.
“We’re excited about Saturday,” he said, “we just wish the demand was a little higher at this point.”
So does Renny Harrison, owner of Fanfare Tickets in Carmel. Of the few hundred tickets he purchased for resale, he has several dozen left at discounted rates, starting at $29 for upper-level seats.
“It’s extremely slow,” he said. “We made money up until Monday, and now we’re just trying to get back as much as we can.”
In a good year, the top teams in the Big Ten would be receiving more attention, but the lack of a national title contender this season is likely dampening enthusiasm among casual fans.
Wisconsin returns for its second straight appearance in the championship game, which was played for the first time last year and drew a crowd of 64,152 at Lucas Oil Stadium.
The Badgers are 7-5 this season and finished third in The Leaders Division of the Big Ten, but earned their berth in the title game because undefeated Ohio State University and surprising Penn State University (8-4) both were ineligible to participate due to NCAA sanctions.
Nebraska (10-2) won The Legends Division and is ranked No. 14 in a national poll.
“It’s a unique year in the Big Ten,” Dedman conceded. “But there are a number of factors that go into things like this.”
Dedman remains hopeful that fans of both schools, and even Hoosiers simply wanting to watch a good football game, will make a last-minute push to fill the stadium.
Harrison at Fanfare said some fans may be waiting to see if their team wins the game, and then take a trip to the Rose Bowl instead.
“A lot [of fans] would do one game, but not both,” he said.
Though the game will be played indoors, the local forecast calls for an unseasonable warm high of 58 degrees, which could help to lure more people downtown.
Festivities on Georgia Street begin Friday and continue the next day until game time. Friday’s events will include a question-and-answer session with IndyCar drivers Graham Rahal, Charlie Kimball and Katherine Legge.
Rides in a street-legal two-seater IndyCar will be available Friday from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the corner of Georgia and Illinois streets for $15.
The Big Ten will host its Fan Fest on Friday and Saturday at the Indiana Convention Center, where more than 200,000 square feet will be dedicated to interactive games and entertainment.
Kickoff is at 8:17 p.m. Saturday. The game will be televised nationally on Fox.