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Schnepf: Sellouts often lead to disgruntled football fans

FARGO -- Back in the 1970s long before Facebook, StubHub, Craigslist and eBay, it was not unusual to see sheets of paper posted in University of Nebraska dormitories advertising football tickets for sale.

As a student back then, I paid $25 for a season ticket. You could sell your ticket for just one game for twice that amount.

Today, Nebraska students advertise online for as much as $100 per game -- knowing school officials are unable to enforce a policy that mandates tickets cannot be resold for more than its face value of $21.

That's what happens when the last 318 Husker home games, dating way back to 1962, have been sellouts. It's the old economic theory of supply and demand: as demand increases, prices rise.

On a much smaller scale -- and I stress smaller -- North Dakota State is facing a supply-and-demand dilemma. The 18,700-seat Fargodome is already sold out for NDSU's six home football games this fall.

While athletic director Gene Taylor is worried people who can't get tickets will get frustrated, there should be some concern that tickets that do become available will cost an arm and a leg.

NDSU ticket manager Josh Hemingway said he's already seen some tickets for sale on Stub Hub ranging from $30 to $90.

"To a certain degree, we want to see tickets in the hands of people who can use them, but it's not ideal if the tickets are being sold for a profit," Hemingway said. "But there's not a whole lot we can do about that."

It's certainly an enviable problem for NDSU to have. It has already surpassed its budgeted $1.5 million ticket income. All this will certainly justify televising most, if not all, of its games.

Those who do have tickets will watch a national championship team with 14 returning starters. They will see the new Gate City Bank Field -- a 250,000-pound state-of-the art piece of carpet sprinkled with 20,000 shredded tires to give it more cushion.

Fans will also have 1,100 more spots to park and tailgate west of the Fargodome, where 10½ acres of concrete is currently being poured.

"The excitement for NDSU football is definitely at a crescendo right now," said Fargodome general manager Rob Sobolik.

"I've got relatives calling for tickets and I don't have answers for them," said Bison head coach Craig Bohl, who -- by the way -- will get at least a $45,000 bonus in ticket sales.

This kind of football fever is nothing new to Bohl. He was a player and an assistant coach at the above-mentioned Nebraska before he came to NDSU.

To put NDSU's expected six-game sellout string into perspective, Nebraska has had 318 straight sellouts in an 81,000-seat stadium. That's a total of more than 25 million fans who have attended Nebraska home games since 1962.

NDSU would need nearly 1,400 consecutive sellouts to reach that 25 million mark.

Nonetheless, there have been a number of Bison fans asking Sobolik when he's going to expand the Fargodome.

"Let's have that conversation after at least seven straight years of sellouts," Sobolik said.

Schnepf is the sports editor of The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, which is owned by Forum Communications. Email him