It looks like one of the nation’s longest sellout streaks will come to an end this weekend.
Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick acknowledged in a statement Thursday morning that the Irish’s home game against Navy on Saturday is not expected to be a sellout, ending a streak of 273 consecutive games. Swarbrick said the university does not anticipate the Boston College game on Nov. 23 to be a sellout either.
“Based on ticket sales through Wednesday, we do not anticipate sellouts for our games against Navy and Boston College. That this comes during a time of sustained success for our football program reflects both challenges impacting the ticket market nationwide and the unique dynamics of this year’s schedule,” Swarbrick said.
Sellout streak dates back to 1973
Notre Dame has sold out every home game since Nov. 22, 1973, when it hosted Air Force at Notre Dame Stadium. Notre Dame’s consecutive sellout streak trails only Nebraska, which has sold out its home games on a weekly basis since 1962. The Huskers’ streak currently sits at 373 games and will reach 374 on Saturday when Wisconsin visits Memorial Stadium.
“We are grateful to our fans who have filled the stadium for the last 273 games — dating back to our November 1973 game against Air Force — and 321 of the last 322 contests dating back to 1964,” Swarbrick’s statement said. “We will continue the tradition of making Notre Dame Stadium a destination for generations of Fighting Irish students, alumni and fans while providing the best possible atmosphere for our student-athletes."
In an interview with the South Bend Tribune, Swarbrick admitted that the school has sometimes had to get creative to keep the streak alive. There were tickets with large discounts. There were “friends of Notre Dame” who would buy large blocks of tickets.
But this year’s cluster of underwhelming home games — Virginia Tech, Navy and Boston College in a span of four weeks — proved to be too much to overcome.
“When we’d have one game, we could clearly focus on it,” Swarbrick said. “This is a circumstance, where you’ve got games in consecutive weeks in mid to late November, and so you don’t have some of the same strategies available to you. And because of the number of our fans that travel (a great) distance to the stadium, is just a challenge for us. It’s endemic to that schedule. And we knew it a year and a half ago, as we were looking forward, that you know what, that might be the time where the streak ends.”
As an independent program, Notre Dame plays a national schedule that requires plenty of travel. The school is faced with the balancing act of creating a schedule that will attract fans to the stadium while also keeping the Irish in the College Football Playoff race.
This year, Notre Dame is 7-2 and ranked No. 16 entering Saturday’s game, meaning a return trip to the CFP won’t be in the cards. But if Notre Dame wins the rest of its regular season games, it will finish with double-digit wins for the third straight season.
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