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Oklahoma State football: A stunning success story at the box office

Athletic director Mike Holder says when OSU sells out the stadium via season tickets, no longer will fans have to buy season tickets to get a premium game, such as Bedlam.
by Berry Tramel Modified: June 18, 2013 at 8:04 pm •  Published: June 18, 2013

photo - Oklahoma State's fans line up before the OSU spring football game at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Okla., Sat., April 20, 2013. Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman
Oklahoma State's fans line up before the OSU spring football game at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Okla., Sat., April 20, 2013. Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman

Good news for all on both sides of Bedlam who despise Mike Holder's ticket policy. He has an exit strategy. Some day in the future, OSU football no longer will designate a singular home game by which admission is granted only through season tickets or the opponents' limited allotment.

The bad news? That day arrives when OSU sells out Boone Pickens Stadium via season tickets.

But back to good news. That day could be fast arriving.

Cowboy football's stunning success story at the box office continues. So much so that OSU's goal for the 2013 season is 50,000 season tickets, and State just might get there. So much so, OSU is dialing back the number of tickets it makes available to OU for Bedlam, always the designated no-sale game in years when the Sooners play in Stillwater.

OU will receive just 4,000 Bedlam tickets this season for the Dec. 7 showdown. Big 12 policy requires schools make 3,850 available. Over the years, OSU and OU have provided 5,000 tickets to the visiting school, though in recent seasons the Cowboys have requested just 4,000. And now that's all OU is getting, though it could sell four times that many.

“We'd always done a deal with OU where we traded 5,000,” said OSU ticket manager Craig Bauman. “But based on the demands we're seeing, and where those tickets are (east ends of the stadium, roughly even with the end lines), we feel we can sell those as season tickets.”

More reason for Sooner exasperation. But no matter to Holder. His ticket policy has been the stuff of marketing legend. OSU's season-ticket sales, public and student combined, have increased from 32,903 as recently as 2006 to 48,876 last year. That's a 50 percent increase in six years, an improvement that typically takes decades. And now the OSU goal is 50,000.

“Hoping a day soon we'll be sold out on a season basis,” Bauman said.

When that happens, no longer will a solitary date be restricted from single-game sales. Of course, in that scenario, every game will be restricted from single-game sales.

“When we get to the sellout situation, there won't be any need for the policy, and the controversy goes away,” Holder said. “That's when the policy will terminate.”

That plan angered Sooner fans, who labeled it a ploy designed to keep crimson out of Payne County, and even some OSU fans, who considered it extortion to buy season tickets. Holder always has pleaded not guilty to the former but dang straight on the latter.

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by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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