Notre Dame football’s sellout streak expected to end after 46 years

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University of Notre Dame may fail to sell out its football stadium Saturday for the first time since 1973, ending a streak of 273 games.

The last time Notre Dame officially played to a less-than-capacity crowd was on Thanksgiving Day 46 years ago against Air Force, a game rescheduled for television while most students were away. The school’s stadium seats 77,622, about six times more than the student body of 12,393.

Nebraska has the longest sellout streak in the NCAA at 372 games.

“Based on ticket sales through Wednesday, we do not anticipate sellouts for our games against Navy and Boston College,” Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick said in a statement on Twitter. “That this comes during a time of sustained success for our football program reflects both challenges impacting the ticket market nationwide and the unique dynamics of this year’s schedule.”

Notre Dame has three home games this month. It’s already had its first snowfall and the high on Saturday is forecast to be 35 degrees Fahrenheit.

“It’s a sign of the digital age,” said Stephen Shulkowski, a 1990 Notre Dame graduate in mechanical engineering who is CIO of DuPont Transportation & Industrial. There are “many other options and ways to still be connected to the game.” Other alumni noted late-season games were sometimes sparsely attended even when sellouts were announced and cited rising ticket costs.

Tickets for the two remaining home games are available on the university’s website for $45 to $160, while tickets against the University of Southern California in October went for as much as $300.

Notre Dame Stadium opened in 1930, the year coach Knute Rockne won the last of his three national championships. He died in a plane crash in 1931 and the stadium is known as the House that Rock built. It was designed by Osborn Engineering Co., which also designed New York’s Yankee Stadium, and the total cost of construction was more than $750,000.

It originally seated 59,075 until an upper deck was added in 1997. A further $400 million project completed in 2017 added academic buildings around the stadium’s perimeter, a giant video screen and artificial turf for the first time.

Garth Brooks played the first stand-alone concert in the stadium last year. Billy Joel is scheduled to perform in June.

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