MORGANTOWN - It is still way too early to predict any final numbers, but West Virginia's early season ticket sales for football are at the highest pace in recent years.
With the May 13 deadline for priority season ticket renewals still nearly four weeks away, the 4,806 that were sold as of April 15 was the highest in the past nine years.
"We have benchmark dates that we look at from year to year and the most recent was last Friday,'' said Matt Wells, WVU's sports marketing director. "We've done that since 2003 and this is the strongest sales number by that date in the last nine years.''
While just over 4,800 tickets and an April 15 sales date are perhaps too small a sample for any predictions to be made, it is encouraging for a school that has seen season ticket sales drop each of the last two years.
"It's an early indicator,'' said Wells, who said the previous high for April 15 was 4,496 in 2008.
Last year, West Virginia sold 34,754 season tickets. That was a drop from the 36,690 sold for the 2009 season, which was less than the 38,191 in 2008.
That 2008 figure - which included that previous-high April 15 mark of 4,496 - is the record for season ticket sales with the current Mountaineer Field seating capacity of 60,000. Wells said that there were a couple of earlier years - 1989 and 1998 - when the number was above that, but at the time the stadium capacity was 63,500. Those figures also included the sale of mini-packages - tickets for a select number of games, not all - which are no longer offered.
In 1998 the school sold more than 41,000 season tickets, including the mini-packages.
The number of seats was reduced in 2004 with the construction of the end zone luxury boxes.
The maximum number of season tickets that can be sold at the stadium is roughly 38,200. The remaining seats must be reserved for, among others, students, visiting team allotments and groups.