WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Video of the Wake Forest football team celebrating their bid to the Military Bowl went viral this weekend.
That exuberance did not go unnoticed by Steve Beck, the Military Bowl executive director, who visited with the media before last night’s Wake Forest basketball game at Joel Coliseum.
On ticket sales
Beck: “Ticket sales are going great. We’ve sold more than 1,000 the last two days, not including the schools’ tickets. We have several thousand sold already and are well over 20,000 already sold. It’s going very well.”
On how the news out of Temple will affect sales and excitement
Beck: “I really don’t think it will affect it. I’m happy for Matt (former Temple coach Matt Rhule). Matt’s a great guy and a great coach. He had a couple great years. I don’t really think it will affect us. Temple fans will be there. They had more people in the stands than Navy last week. They had the whole side filled up. It being a little over two hours away. It’s an easy drive. I think they will show up. I think it will be great.
“The thing I like about Wake is the incline. It’s sort of like our bowl. We’re on the incline. Wake Forest is on the incline. I think their fans will be motivated. 2011 was their last bowl game. That’s what we’re betting on and hoping for.”
On if there’s a concern about getting Temple fans right back to the same venue
Beck: “It was a little bit of a concern. It became less of a concern when they won. They’re obviously ranked No. 23. It’s their third ranked team in the last five years. They’re a very good team. It’s going to be a tough test for Wake.”
How how they picked Wake
Beck: “It’s all because my son went here and graduated here. That and Krispy Kreme doughnuts. Actually, Wake showed the biggest desire to come here. Sixty percent of their alumni live within driving distance. It’s a program on the rise. The last six games were tough, but five of those six game were against teams that are bowl eligible. They played a tough schedule down the stretch. We have a great relationship with the staff and the coach.”
On how much of a bump they get from having a team participate that’s not been to a bowl in five years
Beck: “That’s what we’re thinking, is that their fans will be ready to come up. They were in our game in 2008, and that was a tough spot too. Their allotment was only 4,000 tickets and then they bought some more. It was an 11 a.m. game on Dec. 20. It was like almost a sleet, ice storm. It was one of the coldest days of my life. But we have the weather under control. It’s going to be 47 and sunny. I just checked before I came over here, so hopefully that will work out. The last three years, we’ve been very lucky, in the 50s and 60s.”
On his reaction to Wake’s reaction on coming to the Military Bowl
Beck: “It gives a temporary sense of a job well done. That was very impactful. It was great to see that, hey, they want to come to us. The desire was there on both sides. We wanted them and they wanted to come. When you see the players get that excited about this, it’s very special.”
On the other teams under consideration
Beck: “North Carolina State and Boston College. North Carolina State would have been a good choice too. Their fans were maybe not as excited as Wake’s fans, at least that’s what I hope. Ask me again in three weeks, and I’ll tell you if we made the right decision. Wake’s fans are really pumped up. N.C. State’s fans were thinking they would win eight or nine games this year. They lost to Boston College and East Carolina, and I think that had an impact too.”
On if he felt courted from those other teams
Beck: “A little bit, but not as much as Wake.”
So N.C. State did supply a desire to be in the Military Bowl
Beck: “Absolutely. Look, Shreveport (Independence Bowl executive director) Missy Setters is a good friend of mine and does a great job. It’s the day after Christmas, so logic tells you. Annapolis. Have you been to Annapolis before? It’s a fantastic spot for a bowl game. We have a big parade that starts at 10:30 a.m. The hotels are right there. The Wake Forest hotel is the Westin, which is walking distance. I recommend walking from the hotel if they’re there. It’s a quarter-mile away. There’s a whole downtown area with great restaurants. We have a gallery walk and a bar crawl the night before. Flags will be lining the streets. We have a lot of Medal of Honor recipients, and both team bands (at the parade). There are about 60 different elements to the parade. It’s a cool atmosphere.”
On the stadium
Beck: “The facility was built in 1959, but it’s great. We have two suites up top that hold 200 people. Plush. As nice as my living room. There are two club areas down below that hold 200 people. There are 28 suites. They have the hill like you all do here, which is great for kids to hang out. It’s like a memorial, you can hang around and read stuff. It’s a very impressive venue.