Rick Merriam doesn’t mind lofty expectations for Colorado College hockey ticket sales. “My goal is that every single game is sold out,” said Merriam, who oversees ticketing as CC’s assistant athletic director. Merriam and other CC athletic department officials also would like to see all of the seats that are sold filled with people to enhance the atmosphere at World Arena. Coming off a season in which the Tigers went to the Frozen Four, CC has sold more than 5,000 season tickets. It boasts a 95 percent renewal rate for season tickets and has added 420 new season ticket holders. Single-game tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. today. Merriam has reason for optimism. Last season, CC averaged 6,812 fans, its highest total since the 1999-2000 season. There’s a chance CC’s average attendance could top 7,000 for the first time since the 1998-99 season, the team’s first full year at World Arena. “Our challenge is to keep improving,” Merriam said. “The schedule is really attractive from a sales standpoint. I’m hopeful that our fans will look at that schedule and really want to get behind us.” CC has the third-lowest single-game average ticket prices in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association at $14.50. The only WCHA teams with cheaper single-game tickets are Alaska-Anchorage ($13.50) and Michigan Tech ($10). Minnesota has the highest singlegame prices, charging $29 for reserved seats and $26 for standing-room-only seats. North Dakota ($24) has the secondhighest single-game prices, followed by Denver ($20.67) and Wisconsin ($20). CC’s average price for season tickets is $319. Season tickets along the sidelines in the lower bowl cost $376. By comparison, Minnesota, which has a 2,100-person waiting list for season tickets, charges $682 for reserved seats and $610 for standing-room-only seats. Denver, which has a 200-person waiting list coming off its second consecutive national championship, charges $462 for sideline seats. Like several other WCHA schools, CC adds premiums for attractive games at World Arena. The Denver games, which are scheduled for Dec. 2 and March 2, cost an extra $5. Merriam said CC has no immediate plans to institute a priority seating system, such as one at Wisconsin. Season tickets at Wisconsin’s Kohl Center cost $396, and fans sitting along the sidelines in the lower bowl are required to make a $25 or $50 donation to a fundraising program. Then again, Wisconsin has led the nation in attendance the past seven seasons. Last season, Wisconsin averaged 11,955 fans. “You don’t want to disenfranchise your core supporters,” Merriam said when asked about the possibility of CC using a priority seating system. “If we were sold out every single game and if we had people banging down our doors just to come watch a game because they don’t have season tickets . . . our ticket sales haven’t been broken. It has been good.” CC graduate Clay Bowen, who renewed his season tickets even though he lives in Virginia, opposes a priority seating system. “I don’t know if the demand would be as high in Colorado Springs,” Bowen said. “If they’re going to stay filling up the arena, I don’t think they could charge Minnesota prices.” Merriam admits it will be a challenge to draw large crowds for some WCHA dates, such as the Nov. 4-5 games against St. Cloud State and the Nov. 18-19 games vs. Michigan Tech. He said CC officials might try to boost attendance with “family nights.” For about $50, fans would receive four tickets and four meal vouchers. “There are games where a week before the games are played, we’re looking at 1,000 (unsold) seats,” Merriam said. “We can be fairly creative. But with a limited spending budget, there’s not a ton we can do.” Colorado Springs resident Cathy Thurlby said she noticed empty seats in the first couple of rows behind the glass at times last season. “It’s still happening, and it drives me crazy,” said Thurlby, who has had season tickets since the Tigers moved to World Arena in January 1998. “I wish there was some kind of a way that those corporate seats could get filled. It’s just really sad for those kids to look up and see empty seats.” CONTACT THE WRITER: 636-0256 or firstname.lastname@example.org OPENER CC vs. Union College, 8:05 p.m., Oct. 7, World Arena
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