RENO - Cary Groth expects University of Nevada football fans to fill up about half of San Francisco's AT&T Park when the Wolf Pack plays Boston College in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl on Jan. 9.
"I think the University of Nevada will send over 20,000 fans," the Wolf Pack athletic director said Monday afternoon.
Groth confirmed that the University of Nevada has sold out of its allotment of 15,369 tickets to the bowl game. AT&T Park, the spring and summer home of baseball's World Series champion San Francisco Giants, has an official capacity for football of 40,184.
"We already have sold over 34,000 tickets to the game," Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl executive director Gary Cavalli said, "and there's a good chance we'll have a sellout."
Last year's bowl game at AT&T Park, then called the Emerald Bowl, attracted 40,121 fans for the USC Trojans' 24-13 victory over Boston College. The attendance record for the 9-year-old bowl game is 42,268 two years ago to see California against Miami.
"The state of Nevada and this community have made us all look smart," Cavalli said. "Some people raised their eyebrows when we chose Nevada over Boise State. But never in our wildest dreams did we imagine 15,000 (Wolf Pack fans) coming to our game."
Rhonda Lundin, associate athletic director for communications, said the university sold a total of just 609 tickets combined for its last four bowl games (Hawaii Bowl in Honolulu last year, Humanitarian Bowl in Boise, Id., in 2008, New Mexico Bowl in Albuquerque in 2007 and MPC Computers Bowl in Boise in 2006). The tickets sold figure for the Pack's appearance in the 2005 Hawaii Bowl were not available, Lundin said.
"When I promised (the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl) that we'd have 11,000 people going I couldn't imagine over 15,000 people going," Nevada president Milton Glick said. "A lot of people really stepped up."
The bowl at AT&T Park was called the San Francisco Bowl in 2002, the Diamond Walnut San Francisco Bowl in 2002 and 2003 and the Emerald Bowl from 2004 through last year. Last year's game had a payout of $900,000 to the Pac-10 and $750,000 to the Atlantic Coast Conference.
"We've had an outstanding football season," Groth said. "That was something our community and our university really needed. It brought us all together."
Groth said tickets will be available for pick-up from Dec. 27-30 at Nevada's Legacy Hall from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. each day. After that the tickets can be picked up at the Westin St. Francis Hotel in downtown San Francisco from Jan. 5-7 and at AT&T Park's will call window on Jan. 8-9.
Cavalli added that the bowl game will donate 15,369 meals (one for each ticket the Pack sold) to the Northern Nevada Food Bank.
The game on Jan. 9 (6 p.m. kickoff) will be televised on ESPN.
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