Penn State fans are getting ready to head west for one of the crown jewels of postseason football.
After appearances in the TaxSlayer Bowl in Jacksonville, Fla., last season or New York’s Pinstripe Bowl in December 2014, the Nittany Lions are making their way back to the main stage with the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on Jan. 2, and they are planning to show up in force.
“Our original ticket allotment was 22,000 and we were able to secure another 1,000-plus from the Big Ten,” said Intercollegiate Athletics spokesman Jeff Nelson.
But if you were waiting to buy one, chances are you didn’t get a chance.
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“Students bought approximately 1,700 from the allotment,” Nelson said. “Because of the demand from Nittany Lion Club members and students, we did not have sales for Alumni Association members and the public.”
But that didn’t mean that people who don’t already have season tickets or student IDs were out of luck. Travel companies have helped to fill the void.
The company arranges big-time travel packages for marquee events in the sporting world — things like the Masters golf tournament, the Super Bowl, the Final Four of NCAA basketball and, yes, the top draws in the college football bowls.
This is the company’s first year working with Penn State, which has only attended three Rose Bowls. The last was on Jan. 1, 2009.
“There’s been a tremendous response,” said Chief Marketing Officer Zack Long.
The company is offering a variety of packages, including chartered flights from Harrisburg to Los Angeles, or hospitality coordination in and around the hotels and game in Pasadena.
“It all bubbles up around the game itself, and then hopefully celebrating the win before going home,” Long said.
He said the response started as soon as the Nittany Lions were named Big Ten champions.
“It’s such a great fan base,” Long said. “It’s interesting for us. We are leaders in this space. But with Penn State and this game and the season that they’ve had, the response is incredible. It’s been an overwhelming reception and very positive.”
They aren’t the only ones coordinating trips for the big day.
Primesport’s packages with flights are sold out, and so are Thompson Tours air packages. Thompson has been putting together Penn State travel for 25 years, including trips to Ireland in 2014 and the Pinstripe Bowl. It coordinated a Big Ten championship trip two weeks ago. The company’s Rose Bowl package includes a stay in Beverly Hills, and while airfare is no longer available, packages without are still being sold.