Dec. 8, 2001
Chadd Cripe Idaho Statesman 07 Dec 2001
Clemson fans unwilling or unable to travel nearly 2,300 miles have found an alternative way to support their team. Theyre buying Humanitarian Bowl tickets and donating them to Big Brothers-Big Sisters of Southwest Idaho. The idea was spread through a fan Web site and coordinated by the Clemson ticket office.
“I hope that my ticket will lead to a youngster seeing a great college football game — and maybe even becoming a Tiger fan,” Clemson graduate and ticket donator Craig DeLucia wrote in an e-mail to The Idaho Statesman.
Big Brothers-Big Sisters has about 375 children in its program. If enough tickets are donated, each will get a pair of tickets and can take his or her “sibling” to the New Years Eve game.
“Its terrific,” Big Brothers-Big Sisters of Southwest Idaho executive director Cindy Mesko said. “Its a great way to partner our communities in a fun way.”
More than 50 tickets already have been purchased for donation. The Boys and Girls Club of Ada County is next in line if the donated tickets are too much for Big Brothers-Big Sisters.
Clemson may even send pompoms and Tiger Rags (bandannas) for the kids.
“Maybe well have some kids end up going there for college,” Mesko said.
Clemson agreed to purchase 8,000 tickets at $33 apiece as part of its bid for the H-Bowls at-large spot. The Tigers, of the Atlantic Coast Conference, will play WAC champ Louisiana Tech at 10:30 a.m. MT Dec. 31 at Bronco Stadium.
Tigers fans helped sway the H-Bowls selection with more than 2,000 e-mails, phone calls and faxes to executive director Gary Beck. He sees the tickets-for-charity plan as a positive.
“Thats very supportive of their program,” Beck said. “Its their way of saying, Were backing up what we said. Thats a big hurdle theyre facing in getting to Boise.”
Clemson has sold about 500 tickets so far. Ticket applications were mailed to fans Wednesday and many have called the ticket office with questions. One fan said he might buy 2,000 tickets and donate them to Big Brothers-Big Sisters.
Linda Long, a travel agent in nearby Greenville, S.C., organizes bowl packages for alumni.
“The response has been good,” she said, “but it hasnt been as fast as years past.”
Clemson has sold at least 17,500 tickets to 15 of its past 17 bowl games, dating to 1977. But the farthest theyve traveled in that span is Shreveport, La.
This also is late notice for Clemson. Long said she usually knows where the Tigers will play by the second week of November.
They were invited to Boise on Tuesday.
“They think its a long ways to go,” she said, “but the people I have talked to all seem excited about going out there because its a different destination.”
Long is offering a $920 package that includes charter airfare from Greenville to Boise — its a 5 1/2 -hour flight — two nights at the DoubleTree Downtowner, airport and stadium transfers and a game-day breakfast.
Last year, fans paid about $400 for three nights in Jacksonville, Fla., a Gator Bowl ticket and a party the night before the game. Most of them were able to drive.
Long said she couldnt find commercial airfares to Boise for less than $900, but a quick check of Expedia.com on Thursday showed a $489 fare from Greenville to Boise and plenty of flights from Charlotte and Atlanta (both two hours away) ranging from $453 to $489.
Flights from Shreveport — the nearest major airport to Louisiana Techs hometown of Ruston — are similarly priced. Bulldogs fans can get to Boise for $492 or Salt Lake City for $335.
Some La. Tech fans plan to drive, a 1,958-mile trek that will take 32 hours, 57 minutes according to MapQuest.com.
“Its a good three-day drive,” said Flo Miskelley, an associate athletic director at La. Tech.
The H-Bowl sent Miskelley 1,000 tickets this week, even though the Bulldogs technically had to buy 5,000. The school will get more if necessary.
Miskelley has sold about 500.
“Its a little too soon to tell how many well sell,” she said. “Easily a thousand.”
Louisiana Tech sold out a 150-seat charter plane for fans. The package cost $850, including two nights at The Grove Hotel, ground transfers, a dinner and a game ticket.
Other fans have told Miskelley they are traveling from their homes in states around the West for Louisiana Techs first bowl game in 11 years.
“Its wonderful to be invited to a bowl,” Miskelley said.
Locally, the Louisiana Tech-Clemson announcement spurred ticket sales. The H-Bowl has sold about 2,000 tickets, mostly this week, Beck said. The game also has 2,200 annual ticket holders.
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