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UND sees bump in season tickets

GRAND FORKS -- The University of North Dakota football program is entering new territory as it embarks on its inaugural season in the Big Sky Conference and the first opportunity at the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs.

The fresh undertakings have created a new buzz.

As of Thursday, the UND athletic department says it has sold roughly 4,300 season football ticket packages for the 2012 season -- up nearly 400 from 2011 -- with two weeks to go before the team's season opener.

"Obviously people are excited for the Big Sky," said Dexter Albrecht, UND's director of ticket sales. "I was just talking to someone today about how it's the best football schedule UND's ever had ... and next year even gets better."

It's a bounce-back number for UND, which saw its attendance numbers take a dip during the Division I transition when it was difficult to draw attractive opponents to the Alerus Center.

In 2009, UND had approximately 4,200 season tickets. That number dipped to 4,130 the following season and right around 4,000 last year.

Albrecht said the school is expecting this year's number to continue to climb, too.

"Within the past few years, there's a good trend of lots of season ticket sales the last week leading up to the season," Albrecht said.

Albrecht, who estimated the final week tally could be around 50 season tickets, said the last-minute trend has been common for UND football, which he guessed sold 3,000 walk-up tickets for homecoming last season.

UND changed its season ticket prices this season and altered its tiered-pricing approach from four levels to three.

Last season, ticket packages were available for $40, $50, $60 or $75. This season, seats are going for $60, $75 and $90 depending on the location. Also, if fans bought season tickets last season, they were locked into that price for this year.

Single game tickets went on sale Wednesday. Albrecht said it was the biggest online selling day for football that he has seen at UND for single tickets.

UND has sold almost 1,000 single-game tickets (approximately 800 are group tickets) to the team's matchup with the University of Montana on Oct. 20 at the Alerus Center.

For those who have purchased the season packages, UND will mail out the tickets on Monday, the school said.

Albrecht said fan excitement for the Big Sky extends beyond football. He said basketball has already sold more season ticket packages than it did last season. This is the first season that men's and women's basketball season tickets are sold individually.

Albrecht doesn't believe Big Sky enthusiasm has peaked, either.

"In future years as fans get to know these teams and rivalries, that's a big part of it, too," he said.

Students, who Albrecht said will also benefit from learning the rivalries, are a priority for the athletic department.

"We've got to get the students," Albrecht said. "They bring the energy. That's 2,000 to 2,500 fans. They're a big part of it."