COLLEGE STATION, Texas — The tent village outside Kyle Field, which grew to epic proportions Sunday night, has been dismantled. By now, students have plucked their 31,000 seats for Saturday’s showdown between No. 6 Texas A&M and No. 1 Alabama.
But the resale ticket market is ablaze for fans seeking access to the most-anticipated college football game of the 2013 season. Prices on StubHub this week started at $400 and went up to $5,000 for a pair of tickets, with parking passes going from $101 to $1,489, depending on location. Earlier this month, a group of four club seats sold for $20,000 on the site.
The anticipation for Saturday’s 2:30 p.m. game, said running back Ben Malena, is a topic of conversation in the A&M locker room but something players try to downplay as much as possible.
“I’m pretty sure it’s going to be unlike anything I’ve seen before in the four years I’ve been here,” said Malena, a senior, when asked to anticipate the noise level in Kyle Field for Saturday’s kickoff. “I can’t wait to see the 12th Man rocking.”
Many A&M fans are paying a premium for the opportunity to see if their team can repeat last year’s 29-24 upset of the Crimson Tide and emerge as a front-runner in the BCS national title race.
A Forbes report cited the average resale ticket price at $763, or $50 higher than secondary market tickets for the 2011 matchup between No. 1 LSU and No. 2 Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
Seats are in such high demand that the A&M ticket office posted a Tuesday tweet alerting fans to beware of purchasing student tickets that cannot be resold. The tweet identified the sections reserved for students.
A&M school officials anticipate a crowd between 40,000 and 50,000 for Friday’s Midnight Yell Practice at Kyle Field. They have handled an unprecedented number of requests for media credentials, said Alan Cannon, the school’s associate athletic director for media relations.
The demand has been so high that Cannon has yet to tabulate the totals but has made arrangements with officials at the George Bush Library to handle overflow parking, with complimentary shuttle bus rides to Kyle Field.
In an email, Cannon said the demand for media credentials to the Alabama game is “the most I have ever had to deal with” since he began working in the school’s sports information office as a student assistant in 1984.
Cannon said the only other game comparable to the media interest in Saturday’s matchup was the 1999 game against Texas, which followed the A&M Bonfire collapse and drew news crews from around the country, as well as sports reporters.
A&M lists the capacity of Kyle Field at 82,589. There will be more attendees Saturday, although the stadium attendance record set at the 2010 Nebraska game (90,079) is not expected to fall. Cannon cited “special circumstances” that allowed A&M to top the 90,000 mark in 2010, adding that school officials could be “knocking on the door” of that milestone Saturday, depending on the edict of the fire marshal.
Regardless of the announced attendance, Saturday’s game projects as the most anticipated home game in A&M history. It stands as the most anticipated college game in Texas since 2008, when a pair of Top 10 matchups between undefeated teams — Texas-Oklahoma in October, followed by Texas at Texas Tech in November — drew a significant national buzz.
But neither of those contests featured a two-time defending national champion, like Alabama (1-0). Neither of those contests featured a reigning Heisman Trophy winner, which A&M (2-0) has in quarterback Johnny Manziel.
A&M coach Kevin Sumlin said: “For our fans, the excitement level is probably as high as it’s ever been. That’s fine for our fans. I want this place to be as loud as it’s ever been on Saturday afternoon.… But as a coaching staff, we have to remain really consistent in our approach.”