Party's started -- now Gophers just need some more party-goers

  • Article by: PHIL MILLER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 8, 2011 - 9:38 PM

Tickets remain for the team's nonconference games, but coach Jerry Kill has some fan-friendly ideas about creating game-day atmosphere.

hide

Filling up TCF Bank Stadium won’t be a problem when Nebraska and Wisconsin come to town, but Gophers nonconference football games are a tougher sell.

Photo: Jim Gehrz, Star Tribune file

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

You might not know it by looking at him, but Jerry Kill is a party guy. And not the small, intimate-gathering cocktail-party type, either.

"Let's get it on. It should be the biggest party in the state," the Gophers coach said this week, by way of issuing 5 million invitations to his latest bash. "That's the way it ought to be -- I'm not going to apologize for saying that."

No, it's the excuse-me attitude of Gophers crowds in the past that he's hoping to charge up. At Kill's behest, the university, with the city's approval, will close Oak St. between 4th and 5th Streets --the road between TCF Bank Stadium and Mariucci Arena -- at 10:30 a.m. Saturday for the first of what Kill hopes becomes a long tradition of student tailgate parties.

"There's no place for them to really tailgate. So we're saying, the students are important," Kill said. "That's why we all get paychecks -- the students. We always complain about the students, but none of us would have a job if it wasn't for the students. So I think we ought to take care of them."

Now all the Gophers have to do is find enough partiers to fill their stadium.

More than 1,200 tickets for Saturday's home opener against New Mexico State remained as of Thursday, plus roughly half of the 10,000 student tickets for the east end zone. The Gophers are hoping the forecast of sunshine and 80 degrees creates a walk-up crowd, but associate athletic director Jason LaFrenz conceded that the effects of the football team's 3-9 season in 2010 still lingers, despite the optimism Kill's hiring has created.

"It's tough to gauge how far behind that has put us," LaFrenz said. "Let's just say, we've got to sell a lot of tickets in the next two weeks."

About 3,500 seats worth of season tickets weren't renewed this year, he said, roughly 10 percent of the Gophers' base. Some springtime marketing around Kill's debut added 2,000 new ticket-holders, but "we got a lot of responses that basically said, 'We're waiting to see if the team is competitive,'" LaFrenz said.

The Gophers were competitive at Southern California last Saturday, falling 19-17 only after a last-minute pass was intercepted, and "that's created a lot of buzz around the team," LaFrenz said. "That should help. Whether it's enough to sell out the nonconference games, we're going to find out soon."

The conference games are another matter, especially with Nebraska, Wisconsin and Iowa all visiting TCF Bank Stadium this year. With prices for those games in triple-digits on secondary-ticket markets such as StubHub, LaFrenz said he has heard of a few Nebraskans buying season tickets, just for the Huskers' Oct. 22 visit. "We've been encouraging our season-ticket holders to hold on to their tickets, so they can attend a great game," LaFrenz said. "We could probably have taken out an ad in the Omaha Herald and sold a bunch of tickets, but we want our fans to keep the red out of TCF Bank Stadium."

As for the students, LaFrenz said slow early sales picked up once classes began this week, but the $84 season tickets might still fall behind last season's level, at least until Big Ten games start next month.

That's why Kill's initiative to attract more students is so important. A band will entertain the crowd, while the school will be setting up games, selling food and drinks, and this Saturday, giving away several hundred pizzas. The football team will continue its "victory walk" tradition to the stadium through the crowd at 12:15 p.m., with Kill leading the way.

A walk through campus in the spring caught Kill's attention, the coach said.

"They had the spring bash or something, and they had everything shut down. Just one big hoopla party, everybody's having a great time," Kill said. "And I said, 'Why don't they do that on game day?' ... You go to Nebraska and Lincoln, that's what they do. We should be user-friendly, that's all I'm saying."

Funny thing is, Kill doesn't get to enjoy his party; he's so locked into his game-day responsibilities, he barely notices the atmosphere, he said. But he knows how to market his team and his sport.

"It's got to be fun. It's not going to happen overnight -- we've got to win some football games, too," Kill said. "Everywhere I've been, [the atmosphere around games] has gotten better, and it's still going pretty good."

  • GOPHERS FOOTBALL

    Up next: 2:30 p.m. Saturday vs. New Mexico State at TCF Bank Stadium • TV: Big Ten Network (100.3-FM, 1130-AM)

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Los Angeles - LP: B. Wilson 7 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - WP: J. Grimm 8
Detroit - WP: M. Scherzer 3 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: J. Shields 2
Philadelphia - WP: J. Williams 3 FINAL
Oakland - LP: D. Otero 0
Toronto - WP: M. Stroman 6 FINAL
NY Yankees - LP: C. Capuano 3
Arizona - LP: T. Cahill 1 FINAL
Colorado - WP: E. Butler 5
Boston - LP: R. De La Rosa 2 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: C. Tillman 7
Milwaukee - WP: Z. Duke 1 FINAL
Pittsburgh - LP: M. Melancon 0
Washington - WP: J. Zimmermann 3 FINAL
Miami - LP: J. Cosart 2
NY Mets - WP: J. Niese 4 FINAL
Atlanta - LP: M. Minor 2
Chicago WSox - LP: H. Noesi 1 FINAL
Tampa Bay - WP: C. Archer 3
Cleveland - WP: T. House 7 FINAL
Minnesota - LP: T. May 3
Seattle - LP: C. Young 1 FINAL
Houston - WP: D. Keuchel 10
Cincinnati - LP: M. Leake 4 FINAL
St. Louis - WP: J. Motte 8
San Francisco - LP: Y. Petit 2 FINAL
San Diego - WP: A. Cashner 3
Texas - LP: C. Lewis 5 FINAL
LA Angels - WP: J. Weaver 8
San Diego 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Dallas 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Washington 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Houston 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Minnesota 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Tennessee 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Baltimore 12:00 PM
Cleveland
Green Bay 12:00 PM
Detroit
Indianapolis 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Oakland 12:00 PM
New England
San Francisco 3:05 PM
Arizona
Denver 3:25 PM
Seattle
Kansas City 3:25 PM
Miami
Pittsburgh 7:30 PM
Carolina
Chicago 9/22/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 9/25/14 7:25 PM
Washington
Connecticut 14 FINAL
So Florida 17
Old Dominion 45 FINAL
Rice 42
Troy 0 FINAL
(13) Georgia 66
Georgia Tech 27 FINAL
Virginia Tech 24
Eastern Mich 14 FINAL
(11) Michigan State 73
Iowa 24 FINAL
Pittsburgh 20
Bowling Green 17 FINAL
(19) Wisconsin 68
Maryland 34 FINAL
Syracuse 20
Tulane 13 FINAL
Duke 47
Hawaii 12 FINAL
Colorado 21
Marshall 48 FINAL
Akron 17
North Carolina 41 FINAL
East Carolina 70
Army 21 FINAL
Wake Forest 24
Virginia 33 FINAL
(21) BYU 41
(6) Texas A&M 58 FINAL
SMU 6
Rutgers 31 FINAL
Navy 24
Central Mich 10 FINAL
Kansas 24
Utah 26 FINAL
Michigan 10
Florida 21 FINAL
(3) Alabama 42
Louisville 34 FINAL
FIU 3
Fla Atlantic 19 FINAL
Wyoming 20
Indiana 31 FINAL
(18) Missouri 27
San Jose St 7 FINAL
Minnesota 24
Texas State 35 FINAL
Illinois 42
Massachusetts 7 FINAL
Penn State 48
Georgia State 14 FINAL
Washington 45
Appalachian St 20 FINAL
Southern Miss 21
Miss State 34 FINAL
(8) LSU 29
Northern Ill 14 FINAL
Arkansas 52
Middle Tennessee 17 FINAL
Memphis 36
Utah State 14 FINAL
Arkansas State 21
Miami-Ohio 24 FINAL
Cincinnati 31
Idaho 24 FINAL
Ohio U 36
Ball State 23 FINAL
Toledo 34
(14) So Carolina 48 FINAL
Vanderbilt 34
(4) Oklahoma 45 FINAL
West Virginia 33
Ga Southern 28 FINAL
South Alabama 6
UNLV 14 FINAL
Houston 47
Miami-Florida 31 FINAL
(24) Nebraska 41
New Mexico 38 FINAL
New Mexico St 35
(22) Clemson 17 FINAL
(1) Florida State 23
California 45 FINAL
Arizona 49
San Diego St 7 FINAL
Oregon State 28
(2) Oregon 38 FINAL
Washington St 31
Louisiana 9 FINAL
Boise State 34
Texas Tech 9/25/14 6:30 PM
(25) Oklahoma State
Appalachian St 9/25/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
(12) UCLA 9/25/14 9:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Middle Tennessee 9/26/14 7:00 PM
Old Dominion
Fresno State 9/26/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
(1) Florida State 9/27/14 2:00 AM
NC State
Duke 9/27/14 2:00 AM
Miami-Florida
North Carolina 9/27/14 2:00 AM
(22) Clemson
Texas-El Paso 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(20) Kansas State
Tennessee 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(13) Georgia
Vanderbilt 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Kentucky
Wyoming 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(11) Michigan State
Northwestern 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
TCU 9/27/14 11:00 AM
SMU
Iowa 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
Tulane 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers
So Florida 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Colorado State 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Western Mich 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
Maryland 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Indiana
Akron 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/27/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Arkansas 9/27/14 2:30 PM
(6) Texas A&M
Kent State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Virginia
Western Ky 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Minnesota 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Wake Forest 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Louisville
FIU 9/27/14 2:30 PM
UAB
Miami-Ohio 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Colorado 9/27/14 3:00 PM
California
Louisiana Tech 9/27/14 3:00 PM
(5) Auburn
Texas 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Kansas
Temple 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Connecticut
(16) Stanford 9/27/14 3:15 PM
Washington
TX-San Antonio 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
South Alabama 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Idaho
Cincinnati 9/27/14 5:00 PM
(23) Ohio State
Rice 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
(18) Missouri 9/27/14 6:00 PM
(14) So Carolina
Boise State 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Air Force
Central Mich 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
Troy 9/27/14 6:00 PM
ULM
New Mexico St 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(8) LSU
Memphis 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(10) Ole Miss
Texas State 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Washington St 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Utah
(9) Notre Dame 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Syracuse
(7) Baylor 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Iowa State
UNLV 9/27/14 7:00 PM
San Diego St
Illinois 9/27/14 8:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
Oregon State 9/27/14 9:30 PM
(17) USC
Nevada 9/27/14 9:30 PM
San Jose St
Vancouver FC 0 FINAL
Portland 3
Houston 0 FINAL
Philadelphia 0
New England 0 FINAL
Columbus 1
San Jose 0 FINAL
Montreal 2
Seattle 1 FINAL
Red Bull New York 4
D.C. 3 FINAL
Chicago 3
FC Dallas 1 FINAL
Los Angeles 2
Toronto 40 FINAL
Brt Columbia 23
Edmonton 23 FINAL
Hamilton 25
Calgary 12:00 PM
Montreal
Ottawa 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 season     
Aug 28 - vs. E. Illinois 6 pmX42-20
Sep 6 - vs. M. Tennessee St. 2:30 pmX35-24
Sep 13 - at TCU 3 pmX30-7
Sep 20 - vs. San Jose St. 3 p.m.X24-7
Sep 27 - at Michigan TBA
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern TBA
Oct 18 - vs. Purdue 11 am
Oct 25 - at Illinois 11 am
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa TBA
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State TBA
Nov 22 - at Nebraska TBA
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin TBA

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How will the Vikings and Gophers do this weekend?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close