Air Force has soared past its program record for football season ticket sales.
A chunk of the 23,400 packages no doubt moved out of demand for the Notre Dame game Oct. 26, and it's worth noting that the previous record of 22,100 was set in 2001 when Oklahoma was on the home schedule.
So, yes, the opponents played a big role in this. But coach Troy Calhoun thinks it's time the academy makes strides to ensure that it isn't reliant upon a big-name opponent to help fill a stadium for an institution with an enrollment of just 4,000 and with few in-state alumni.
The plan centers on upgrading the stadium.
"When it was built it was state of the art," Calhoun said. "During the 1900s it was perfect. Yet now we're in a different century."
The proposed changes to Falcon Stadium, to which Calhoun provided input, involve upgrades to the parking lots, more suites, easier access to concessions and restrooms and fewer seats.
Fundraising efforts are under way. Public money was not used to build the stadium and the plan is for none to be used to renovate it.
"You take care of your followers, and I think that's done by making sure there's a venue where you make sure you get a water or a popcorn or use the restroom," Calhoun said. "The value of fan amenities in this current climate, I mean, those HD TVs are pretty good."
An intense sports fan, Calhoun understands the appeal of state-of-the-art facilities. He compared the experience of watching a baseball game at Cleveland's old Municipal Stadium (built in 1931) vs. watching one at Cincinnati's Great American Ballpark (built in 2003). There is no comparison, he said.
And if the efforts bring more fans to games, the players are in favor.
"Sometimes we do, we complain about not having the fans that we should be having in the stands," defensive lineman Nick Fitzgerald said. "It plays a big part in the game, especially when you get to go to away games and see other stadiums be packed and everybody going crazy."
Air Force is expecting around 35,000 for Saturday's opener against Colgate. Beyond that, it's hard to tell. Individual tickets for the Notre Dame game won't go on sale until Sept. 23, which may be a reason season tickets are high. There's also the chance that the ticket sales won't be reflected in actual attendance if a number of the season tickets were gobbled up by Notre Dame fans who will take the rest and either sell them or leave them unused.
It's a situation Calhoun wants to avoid in the future by encouraging return business.
"It's not just the revenue or the business aspect, but what it really is is you want them to support the cadets," Calhoun said. "In turn you can reinvest in cadet programs. It's something that's long overdue and can be win-win for everyone involved."