TUCSON--Expectations of a solid season and an early foundation established with some sparks on the field last year has given Arizona football its first sellout crowd since 2000 -- almost. The proof will come at kickoff, 7:23 p.m.
As of the close of business at the McKale Center Ticket Office on Friday, only 76 single tickets remained -- scattered throughout the seating areas. There are no pairs to be had. At this point in the process, phone sales are discontinued.
Online ticket sales continue overnight until the operation moves at 10 a.m. Saturday to the Arizona Stadium game-day box office at East Sixth Street and North Cherry Avenue. Will-call business will be handled there, plus the sales of any remaining seats.
Ticket office officials cautioned online buyers that if buyers want to purchase more than one ticket, they need to make successive individual orders rather than request, say, two singles. The online system will search unsuccessfully for pairs and halt the order when none are found.
UA will play host to the Brigham Young Cougars before a capacity crowd in excess of the listed seating capacity of 56,002 Saturday, in a game to be shown live to a national audience by Turner Sports on its TBS cable flagship.
The sellout is the first since UA drew an overflow crowd of 57,367 for the Sept. 9, 2000, home opener against 18th-ranked Ohio State. Full attendance figures for such games include the sizeable continent of stadium personnel, upwards of 200 media representatives and other allied game management workers.
UA entered the week with about 3,500 tickets left, and those sold steadily each day, said James Francis, UA assistant athletics director for marketing and ticketing.
"It's an awesome response by the community and we appreciate the fact our fans took to the notion of buying ahead of time," he said. Normally, UA has a good "walk-up" crowd, selling as many as 4,000 to 5,000 tickets on the day of a big game, he said.
The Wildcats were 3-8 last year, but were rejuvenated and earned a pair of conference wins late in the year including a road victory at Oregon State, 29-27, and a rout of No. 7 UCLA, 52-14, a week later in Tucson. Then true freshman quarterback Willie Tuitama's emergence coincided with the late-year run and has been a positive force in the offseason speculation which has seen UA climb from the bottom of prognosticators' selections -- including respect that netted a pair of Top 25 votes in the coaches poll.
Officials said ticket sales for other early season games is moving along, as well. UA plays at LSU next week, then returns to Tucson for a three-game homestand with contests against Stephen F. Austin, Southern California and Washington to finish up its September slate. Oregon State and Cal also are on the home schedule, along with the season finale against in-state rival Arizona State, a game that has drawn three of the top five crowds in Arizona Stadium history.