Much has been documented lately about the Big Ten and SEC's struggles to fill their massive stadiums as of late. Each of those behemoths has gone back to the drawing board this spring to study ways to get the modern fan back into their seats each Saturday. If those two tradition-rich leagues, the two conferences that annually outpace every other league in the NCAA's attendance rankings, are having trouble putting filling their upper decks, things must be really bad at the sub-FBS level, right?
Actually, for at least one program, that couldn't be further from the truth.
At Old Dominion, fans' appetite for Monarchs football can only be described as insatiable. Old Dominion has already sold out every single home game for the 2013 season. In fact, the school raised ticket prices, raised suite prices and told fans they had to donate to the athletic department to even become eligible for season tickets. ODU sold out anyway, all without spending one advertising dollar. In fact, ODU can't advertise because they have nothing left to sell, even after creating a "flex package" of 900 seats that will change from game-to-game depnding on unclaimed student tickets and unsold visitors' seats. In all, the Monarchs will have 15,200 season-ticket holders, up from 14,134 last year.
In the world of athletic directors, that's about the best problem you can have. “It’s very unique,” ODU athletic director Wood Selig told HamptonRoads.com. “It’s like the way Kentucky does with their basketball season tickets. You don’t try to push them, you don’t try to sell them, because we don’t have any more capacity.”
Since restarting the program in 2009, Old Dominion football has been an instant grand slam. The Monarchs have sold out all 35 games at Foreman Field. In four seasons, Old Dominion has done nothing but win, posting a 38-10 record with two straight FCS playoffs appearances. The Monarchs will compete as an FCS independent this season and move to Conference USA in 2014.
That means a stadium expansion is somewhere on the horizon.
“We have to be careful,” Selig said. “When the day comes that we’ve got 25,000 or 35,000 seats, we’ve got to figure out where the next wave of fans is coming from. We’ve done a good job of letting people know there aren’t tickets available. But we don’t want people to give up on us and to think I’m not even going to try to get tickets.