The hottest ticket of the summer isn”t N*Sync or the Dave Matthews Band, and it certainly isn”t the Detroit Tigers.
That honor belongs to an outdoor hockey game that won”t take place until this fall.
A record-setting sellout crowd of 72,027 is expected when the Wolverines faces off against Michigan State on Saturday, Oct. 6 in Spartan Stadium.
The collegiate attendance record of 21,575 was set when these same two intra-state rivals met for the 1984 Great Lakes Invitational.
The current world record for hockey attendance is 55,000, set in Moscow”s Lenin Stadium in 1957 when Sweden and the Soviet Union did battle in a World Championship game. The top American mark was set by the NHL”s Tampa Bay Lightning, who attracted 28,183 hockey fans to the ThunderDome in St. Petersburg, Fla.
Expect all those records to fall in October.
“This is unbelievable,” Michigan State Athletic Director Clarence Underwood said in a released statement. “It”s amazing how the fans have embraced this event. There”s no doubt that this event will become one of the signature moments in Spartan history.”
Dr. Underwood made the decision to halt sales Saturday after the Michigan State Ticket Office reported 61,000 tickets had been sold in just nine business days.
The Spartan Ticket Office is holding 10,000 seats for its students, who will be sitting in their usual seats for football games.
A limited number of seats also remain to fill requests from Michigan State”s season-ticket holders.
The Michigan Ticket Office shut down its ticket sales on Friday. The Wolverines acquired an additional 1,000 tickets Friday morning, bringing Michigan”s total to 6,000. Those lasted until 11 a.m.
“Right now we”ve sold all that were are going to sell,” said Shari Wilcox, who was coordinating Cold War sales for the Michigan Ticket Office.
About 500 tickets remain on hold for Michigan”s student season-ticket holders.
It is possible that tickets could go back on sale if students and season-ticket holders fail to purchase the 11,027 seats that are reserved for them. But according to both ticket offices, tickets for the general public should be off the market for good.
The excitement of this event began even before tickets went on sale.
People began camping outside of Jenison Fieldhouse Ticket Office at 10 p.m. the previous night to purchase tickets for “The Cold War.”
When the doors opened, the mob snatched up 3,000 tickets from the walk-up window in the first two hours.
After the first day, an incredible 32,000 tickets were sold. That number included the initial 5,000 tickets allotted to Michigan and another 20,000 that were earmarked for Spartan season-ticket holders.
All of the prime $18 seats were sold during the first day as well.
The foot-traffic slowed in East Lansing, but the phones kept things busy, as four-digit sales became the daily norm for the next several days.
By Thursday, sales had reached 56,100 topping the world record mark after eight business days.
“Since the very beginning, Coach (Ron) Mason has said 30 or 40 thousand would be great,” Michigan State sports information director John Lewandowski said. “We knew that the record was possible, but no one expected this to all happen so quickly.”
Suddenly the Cold War was national news, and collegiate hockey saw its greatest exposure since the Frozen Four.
“We even got a call from (former Michigan State basketball coach) Jud Heathcliff,” Lewandowski said. “He called to congratulate us after he read about it in the Spokane (Wash.) paper.”
The nationwide publicity generated by topping the world-record mark on Thursday kept the phones busy at 1-800-GO-STATE for most of the final day.
“It”s been a steady stream for all nine days,” Lewandowski said on Friday. “But they”ve really been flooded with calls today.”
As tickets began to dwindle, any and every seat was in high demand.
“We”ve been giving out low endzone seats,” Lewandowski said. “And we”ve been telling people, “you may not be able to see the game well,” but they don”t care.”
Many people underestimated the popularity of this event and delayed too long to secure their seats.
“People thought that they could wait till the day of the game and purchase tickets in the 11th hour,” Lewandowski said. “That”s not going to happen.”
Perhaps even Spartan Stadium isn”t big enough to hold this event.