Apple Cup game at Qwest Field will not be part of the Huskies' season-ticket package.
The Washington Huskies are hoping the football team’s first bowl-game victory in 10 years will result in an enthusiastic response from season-ticket holders, who recently began receiving renewal notices for the 2011 campaign.
Some fans, however, are finding themselves surprised not to see the Apple Cup listed among the games included in the season-ticket package.
“It kind of blindsided me,” said Chris Hefty, a five-year season-ticket holder from Spokane, who hadn’t been aware that the game has been moved to Qwest Field, so it wouldn’t be part of UW’s regular ticket plan for 2011.
And when fans figure out how to get Apple Cup tickets, they might also do a double take at the price — the most expensive seat will be $97, more than any Washington home game to date, though tickets will also be priced as low as $15 and the average price is $65.83.
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Washington announced last fall that the Apple Cup game against Washington State, set for Nov. 26, would be played at Qwest Field.
That enables UW to begin the planned $250 million renovation of Husky Stadium immediately following a game against Oregon on Nov. 5, a three-week head start the school says will save $3 million in labor and construction costs.
“That’s serious money,” UW athletic director Scott Woodward said in September when the initial decision was announced. Moving the location means the game will be operated by First & Goal, which oversees Qwest Field and technically becomes the “host,” handling all management of the Apple Cup, including setting ticket prices.
Washington season-ticket holders, however, will get priority on buying tickets for the Apple Cup, information that is included in renewal notices.
Last year’s Apple Cup in Pullman had a high ticket price of $65, while WSU’s game with Oregon State at Qwest next October is expected to have a high price of $75. There was a top ticket price of $80 when UW played Air Force at Qwest in 2005, a game run by promoter Bob Walsh.
However, UW officials said comparisons between games at Qwest and regular home games are a little misleading, because many fans pay seat donations for games at Husky Stadium on top of the price of the ticket (UW will have the same amount of games at Husky Stadium in 2011 as 2010 despite moving the Apple Cup to Qwest).
Washington will receive a $2.4 million guarantee for the Apple Cup. WSU will receive half the net, per the conference’s provisions for splitting the gate for rivalry games. Washington students will apparently be offered seats in the south end zone at an initial set price of $38, though UW officials said there will be multiple sections set aside and priority held for student season-ticket holders. Washington officials, however, say the way this game will be operated is just a one-time thing. While UW will also play the entire 2012 season at Qwest Field, Washington’s athletic department will handle management and ticket pricing for those games (when it will basically be renting Qwest).
Washington will return to Husky Stadium for the 2013 season. It’s becoming common, however, for teams to set higher prices for premium games, such as rivalry contests. Arizona charged as much as $185 for tickets to its game against Arizona State last November, and the USC-UCLA game at the Rose Bowl had a high price of $104.
Washington also will have slight increases for most season tickets and single games next season at Husky Stadium. All season-ticket prices have increased by $8 (meaning the top ticket, Public Reserved, is $383 for six games this year compared to $375 for six games last season).
Washington is charging $80 for a reserved ticket for its top home attraction next year, Oregon, compared to $72 in 2010 for Nebraska and Oregon State. Washington will charge $72 for the top ticket for the California, Colorado and Arizona games and $65 for nonconference games against Eastern Washington and Hawaii. That latter price is actually lower than the $66 UW charged in 2010 for its home games against UCLA, Syracuse, Arizona State and Stanford.
Washington officials say it is too early to gauge if there will be much of an increase in season-ticket sales for 2011, pointing out e-mail notices for renewals were sent Jan. 28 and through regular mail last week.
However, they noted that they have seen an increase in new season-ticket deposits, which they attribute to the 7-6 record and Holiday Bowl win in 2010.
The Huskies sold 44,109 season tickets last year (not including students), the most since 2005.