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Sun Bowl: tickets and changes

By: Melissa Gundersen
EL PASO, Texas -- The 80th annual Sun Bowl is just one week away and coordinators are busy with last-minute preparations.

As it gets closer to the University of California Los Angeles taking on Virginia Tech, the Sun Bowl's executive director, Bernie Olivas, said selling tickets is a priority.

"There are still tickets available in all of the price ranges, but they're going fast," said Olivas.

Olivas said tickets are available in just about every section of the stadium. If someone wants end zone tickets, though, they'll have to jump fast. Olivas said those are the first to sell out.

Within the last 10 years, on average, Olivas said they've sold more than 49,000 tickets in the 50,000-seat stadium. But it's not uncommon for people to wait until the last minute to get their tickets.

"A lot of people in El Paso wait to see what the weather's going to be like, and I've been tracking weather for a long time -- supposed to be in the 60s and sunny," said Olivas.

This year, the band Three Dog Night will be performing a free concert the night before the game at the Convention Center. The day of the game, there will be a free tailgate party on the roof of the south end parking garage, skydivers will be jumping into the stadium, and the Andress High School band will perform at halftime.

With the stadium expected to be just about full, if not sold out, people are advised to get to the stadium earlier this year than in the past.

"Some of the parking lots that are close to the stadium are shut down because of the construction going on at Sun Bowl Drive, so that's kind of pushed everyone farther away from the stadium. So we've added shuttles to make sure the waits are not long," said Olivas.

But when KFOX14 talked to fans about the Sun Bowl, they seemed more interested in next year's game.

Next year, the format of college football will change to a playoff system.

"So there will be six playoff games, and three of those games are going to be played on Dec. 31 and the other three are going to be played on Jan. 1," said Olivas.

To Sun Bowl fans, that means the traditional Dec. 31 game day will be moved. Olivas said he's not sure what date CBS will chose, but said it may be closer to Christmas. It's something that isn't sitting well with a lot of fans.

"I think it would be a lot harder to make it to the game around Christmas time," said Jaime Gonzalez.

Gonzalez goes to the Sun Bowl game every year with his family.

"(It's) something we look forward to doing every year," said Gonzalez.

Gonzalez said a lot of his family wouldn't be able to make it to the game if it was moved closer to Christmas.

According to Olivas, in the '80s Sun Bowl games were one week earlier than they are now and fans did fill the seats. Olivas pointed out the stadium was much smaller back then, but said the only day he dreads CBS choosing is the 25th, Christmas.

"Late back in the '80s, we tried having a Christmas Day tradition. (It) didn't work," said Olivas.

Fan Gilbert Garcia of northeast El Paso called New Year's Eve Sun Bowl games a tradition, but said now that game day is changing, his tradition may change too.

"Christmas, lots of people come into town, but also a lot of people leave," said Garcia.

Despite fans' worries, Olivas remains hopeful the stadium will fill up, since there will be chances for even better matchups.

"The ACC now, with the addition of Notre Dame and Louisville and Syracuse -- that gives them a huge menu of teams to pick from. And now that the Pac 10 has gone to a Pac 12, now they have 12 teams, we have the addition of Colorado and Utah -- also gives them a great menu of teams to select from," said Olivas.

Olivas said a good matchup typically draws in big crowds.


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