Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
BOCA RATON — When Florida Atlantic plays host to No. 6 South Florida on Saturday, FAU Athletic Director Craig Angelos wants a sellout at Lockhart Stadium as long as the Bulls don't have more fans than the home team.
"The No. 1 thing is to have a sellout, but we want to have a home-field advantage with our own fans," Angelos said. "Hopefully we'll have more fans than they do."
As of Tuesday afternoon, around 15,000 tickets had been sold for Saturday's game, which will mark the first time a ranked team has played at Fort Lauderdale's Lockhart Stadium, FAU's home field since 2003, which holds 20,500.
"Half of them will be their fans, I assure you," FAU coach Howard Schnellenberger said.
The Bulls vaulted from No. 18 to No. 6 in this week's rankings, but also the number of USF fans has increased lately. The Bulls were 76th in the nation last season, averaging 30,222 a game, but drew 67,012 last week vs. West Virginia at Tampa's Raymond James Stadium.
USF was allotted 2,000 tickets for Saturday's game and requested 1,000 more on Monday.
Before the season started, FAU looked into playing the USF game at Dolphin Stadium, but NCAA rules allow for only one home game away from a team's home stadium, and the Owls already played Minnesota at Dolphin Stadium this season.
"We had already made the arrangement with Minnesota and couldn't change it," Angelos said. "It wasn't possible under NCAA rules, and we would have liked to because we think more fans would have come out. But there is something to be said for a capacity crowd."
A crowd of 25,632 saw FAU play its first game in 2001 at Dolphin Stadium, but Saturday's attendance is expected to be the largest since then.
Even if the game is not a sellout, FAU is preparing for the largest crowd in school history at Lockhart Stadium, surpassing the 12,587 who saw the Owls play Colgate in the I-AA playoffs in 2003.
That game saw long lines of cars snaking their way into Lockhart Stadium for the game as kickoff approached.
FAU hopes to find parking close to Lockhart for the expected overflow and will also have extra police and security present.
Parking gates will open at 10:30 a.m., which is an hour earlier than usual for a 3:30 p.m. game, and ticket windows will be open for fans who arrive early.
"Everything we're doing is trying to avoid long lines and let people get into the game quickly," said Sean Todd, FAU's coordinator of football operations.
"We know there are a lot of eyes on us and we need to make sure we've progressed since last time."
FAU will also change the way its student tickets are distributed.
Students will be allowed to pick up tickets in advance for the first time instead of at the stadium.
"We want to make sure our students are able to get in," Angelos said.
With the No. 6 team in the nation coming, media attention has increased.
Sports information director Katrina McCormack said there have been more than 100 media credentials issued for the game, including the crew for ESPNU, which will televise the game nationally.
Since the Lockhart Stadium press box has room for fewer than 20 people, FAU will use canopies as a makeshift press box.