A steady stream of customers lined up early Tuesday afternoon to buy tickets to this weekend’s NCAA regional baseball tournament, as the MU athletics department embarked on a media blitz to make this weekend’s games the hottest ticket in town.
The Columbia regional is one of 16 across the country, and MU is a host for the first time since 1965. The four-team field also includes the University of Miami, the University of Louisville and Kent State University.
Chad Moller of the athletics department said that about 250 all-session passes and 250 single-game tickets had been sold by late Tuesday.
“We are hoping, obviously, for a sellout, and I think we might have a chance to do that,” Moller said.
Taylor Stadium, which normally has a capacity of 2,220, is being expanded to accommodate about 3,000 fans with the addition of temporary seating.
Moller is optimistic that enough tickets will be sold to fill the stadium.
“We are relying on our media partners to get the message out,” he said. “We are doing 30-second TV spots on local TV starting today, and we even got Coach (Tim) Jamieson into St. Louis yesterday to film a 60-second TV spot that is going to air on Fox Sports Midwest before the Cardinals games the rest of the week.”
The athletics department has also been lining up interviews with members of the Tiger baseball team with Tiger radio network affiliates around the state, and it is reaching out to MU associations and local groups, such as Little League teams.
“If people don’t come, it’s not going to be because they didn’t know about it,” Moller said.
It shouldn’t hurt that one of the teams is the University of Miami.
“We think the lure of Miami baseball will get people to come out,” Moller said. “They’ve made 35 straight tournaments and won a few national championships recently. They are a very storied program, and we think that will help with the draw.”
Meredith Salefski, a ticket office employee at Mizzou Arena, said that about 10 people were lined up at 8 a.m. Tuesday when in-person tickets went on sale.
“One guy drove all the way from Kansas City,” she said.
Columbia resident Mike Morris purchased an all-sessions pass for three days of baseball after reading about the tournament online.
“It sounds like a pretty cool way to pass the weekend,” Morris said. “Seventy-five dollars for afternoon and evening entertainment for three days seems like a pretty good deal to me.”
Patrick Feehan came by the ticket office Tuesday with high hopes for the 40-win MU team that plays its first game of the tournament at 6:30 p.m. Friday against Kent State.
“I’m not just a Tiger fan, I’m also a big college baseball fan,” Feehan said. “I feel like college baseball is underwatched, and I’m excited for the attention this weekend is getting. I’m really hoping to come out and see the Tigers make the final.”