If you were hoping to pick up tickets to the Big Ten Championship football game from Penn State, chances are, you were disappointed.
“They sold quickly,” said Phil Esten, Penn State deputy director of athletics and Intercollegiate Athletics chief operating officer. “We had a lot of interest.”
Students like freshman Cate Meneskie camped out in front of the Bryce Jordan Center ticket office to have the earliest shot at the pool of tickets allotted to the student body.
Meneskie set up camp at 8 p.m. Sunday. She got her ticket at 8 a.m. Monday.
“I’m excited,” she said. “(The team) had a great season.”
Esten said all of those eager students in line who set up camp were rewarded for their long, cold night. The 2,500 tickets the Big Ten set aside for the students (including the Blue Band) were snapped up quickly.
The university received just 10,000 tickets to sell for the Saturday game at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
For some schools, that might be a lot of tickets. It’s about a quarter of the capacity of Northwestern’s Ryan Field. Rutgers, Indiana and Maryland are close behind. Lucas Oil Stadium seats just 67,000 fans.
But for Penn State, that’s not just less than one-tenth of the capacity of Beaver Stadium’s 107,000-plus seats, it’s also less than half the number of seats dedicated to the student section.
Esten said the number is actually large compared to some away games in smaller venues where Penn State might get just 3,000 seats.
The remaining 7,500 seats, minus tickets for team members, were taken by the Penn State Alumni Association and Nittany Lion Club members, leaving none for general sale.
The Nittany Lion Club is the organization that provides “annual scholarship support to Penn State University student-athletes,” and develops “private support for capital projects, endowments and other needs as prioritized by Penn State Intercollegiate Athletics.” Esten said the NLC has about 23,000 members, meaning a large number of those donors won’t be watching the game in the stadium, either.
“There is a lot of excitement around a game like this,” he said. “The Nittany Lions will have a lot of support in Indianapolis. We are very fortunate to have such passionate and supportive fans.”
Some of those fans are finding other ways to get to the game. Third-party providers are putting together group trips.
D.J. Picca, who has organized past treks to major events like the Nittany Lions’ overseas appearance in Ireland in 2014 and the Pinstripe Bowl, which capped that season with the university’s return to post-season play after the lifting of NCAA sanctions, is coordinating a bus trip to Indianapolis.
“I do them because they are fun,” he said. “And I love everything PSU.”