Huskers' new arena already paying off
Nebraska officials knew this fall's opening of a new arena would bring an attendance bump for the long-struggling men's basketball team.
They didn't know it would be this much this soon.
The athletic department announced Friday that the public's allotment of tickets is sold out — six months before the first game at Pinnacle Bank Arena.
''It's quite amazing,'' said Marc Boehm, the associate athletic director for basketball. ''There are a lot of happy faces over here.''
The new arena in downtown Lincoln will seat 15,147 for basketball. The only tickets left are the ones that must be held back for the visiting team and about 100 student tickets that are expected to be sold soon.
Public season-ticket sales are up 95 percent — from 6,917 last season to 13,500. Student ticket sales are at 1,516, compared with 1,165. The Huskers have never before gone into a season sold out.
''Our program has momentum and people are excited to see where we can take this thing,'' coach Tim Miles said.
The previous high for season-ticket sales was 12,000 in 1992-93.
The Huskers were 15-18 overall and finished in 10th place at 5-13 in the Big Ten in Miles' first season. Average attendance was 10,352 in the final year at the Devaney Sports Center.
Miles said he thought it would be possible to sell out the new arena.
''But I didn't expect it this soon. No way,'' he said. ''I'm glad to have a waiting list, and I hope that waiting list piles up. I hope everyone shows up and stands up and yells at the top of their lungs. It should be a great thing.''
The $179 million arena is the centerpiece of the West Haymarket Development project, which will include hotels, restaurants, parking and shopping located a few blocks from the university campus.
Miles is charged with leading the men's program out of the doldrums. The Huskers haven't won or shared a conference regular-season title since 1950. They have never won a game in the NCAA tournament in six appearances, with their most recent one in 1998.
Though they finished with a losing record, Nebraska was competitive against teams in the upper half of the Big Ten late in the season and won a game in the conference tournament.
''We were within striking distance of top-10 teams,'' Boehm said. ''Our fans are knowledgeable enough to know something good is about to happen. They're jumping on board and seeing the product is getting better.''