Ticket office busy getting ready for football

The Ole Miss athletics ticket office is always a busy place, and summer is no exception. Football season tickets are the order of the day this time of year, but basketball and baseball season tickets will follow again in the months ahead.

Baseball season just ended and summer is here. But for the Ole Miss athletics ticket office, the workload is heating up like the Mississippi weather in late June.

That's because from now until mid-August the ticket office, along with the UMAA Foundation, will go about the task they always do this time of year of putting people in seats they've bought for football season.

Right now fans who have ordered season tickets in the past are being called if they haven't renewed. Some will have forgotten to re-order. Some have simply put it off until now. Others are not re-upping for whatever reason.

"We see some of that every year," said Sans Russell, UM assistant athletics director for ticket operations. "The deadline is in May, and we've called people for years now to see if they want their tickets. There are all kinds of reasons they might not have renewed."

Some of them are listed above. Others might be that some are deceased, or an individual or company is cutting back on the number it purchases. Or perhaps children have gone to college or moved away, and the parents no longer need to buy as many.

"A lot of individuals have reasons for not renewing or cutting back, and we see that each year," Russell said. "Many of them stay exactly the same from year to year, but there are always exceptions."

Ticket sales right now are hovering about where they did last year, which was a bit less than the record number of about 48,000 (including some 7,500 student season tickets) in 2004. As the summer moves on, Russell is hopeful things will continue to pick up as kickoff nears.

"We won't mail any until mid-August, and that will be the season tickets only," he said. "Then just after that we'll mail out tickets for those who have ordered them to the first away games, Missouri and Kentucky. We don't have another road game until Alabama in mid-October."

The reason the road tickets are not all mailed at once is because of the amount of time it takes to actually pull and fill the road orders, especially the large allotments. For example this year the two largest road crowds for Ole Miss will be at Alabama and at LSU.

"Those will probably fill up first, even though they are the largest group of tickets we asked for," said Russell, mentioning that his office has received 7,000 tickets each from Alabama and LSU. "Obviously those are closer to us and are normally big sellers on the road for us."

Ole Miss asked for and received 4,000 tickets to both the Missouri and Kentucky road games in September. While both the Alabama and LSU allotments are expected to be filled, it remains to be seen if the ones for Missouri and Kentucky will be as well. Likely a season-opening home win over Memphis will help complete those sales since those road contests are games two and three on the season.

"But people need to remember that the Memphis game is on Sunday afternoon (followed by Labor Day on Monday)," Russell said. "By Tuesday of that week it may be tough to get a ticket to the game at Missouri from us."

Bottom line: If you are planning to attend the SEC-Big 12 matchup in Columbia, Mo., order this summer or you may be disappointed.

Ole Miss only asked for 3,500 tickets for the road game at Arkansas, which is the norm for that game. When the Rebels and Razorbacks played in Little Rock (prior to 1994), Ole Miss might have twice that many fans attend. In Fayetteville, rarely has Ole Miss sold even 3,500 since the drive there is much further from Mississippi.

"We just don't have as many people go to Fayetteville as a lot of other places we play," Russell said. "We have less tickets for that one than any of our road games this year and probably will sell less than any."

Memphis wants more than the 7,500 tickets that it has gotten from Ole Miss so far. Russell said those plans are on hold presently.

"We want to sell the tickets, of course," he said, "and we much prefer to sell them to Ole Miss people."

In other words, buy, Rebel fans. If you don't, Memphis fans say they will. Of course that isn't necessarily the case either, since Memphis fans have only bought their entire allotment of 7,000 once before, and that was two years ago.

Other Oxford game requests for this season have been Georgia, Auburn, and Mississippi State with 7,000 tickets each. Then the number for the remaining three home foes drops dramatically – Vanderbilt wanted 1,500, Wake Forest 700, and Northwestern (La.) State 200.

Ole Miss fans who wish to purchase tickets online now need to go to the UM official sports website to take care of business. That's olemisssports.com. Go near the top to Athletics Information, scroll down to tickets and click. Presently there are some changes going on with the site, and it is hoped they will be resolved soon.

As soon as the football season tickets are in the mail, then ordering time for men's and women's basketball season tickets will be at hand.

"We like to have that ready by mid-September," Russell said. "Our problem the last few years is that the (men's) schedule has been later in being completed. As soon as that is done, then we can move ahead with the order forms, which we hope is about mid-September."

Last year the men's basketball schedule was released by UM athletics media relations on Sept. 15.

By December, thoughts will turn to baseball season tickets for 2007. Some fans have already inquired about baseball tickets for next year.

"We probably had at least 10 calls about baseball season tickets the day after the Super Regional (with Miami) was over," said UM ticket office assistant James Taylor. "People are excited about baseball, and they know we sold out of grandstand season tickets this past season."

So now they want to make sure they try to get seats as early as possible. But that will be December, according to Russell and Taylor.

There will be additional baseball seating in the outfield for 2007. But additional seats in the grandstand, which will include more general admission seating, more box seats, and 500 club seats, will be available in 2008.

"There's a lot going on," Russell said of the summer at the ticket office. "But athletics is a year-round thing now. It never stops. As soon as one season is over, even this time of year, we're already working on the next one."

The phone numbers for the Ole Miss athletics ticket office are 1-662-915-7167 or (in-state toll free) 1-888-732-8587.

The UM athletics ticket office is located at C.M. "Tad" Smith Coliseum.

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