The Hawkeye wrestling coach discusses the thinking behind the Nov. 14 outdoor dual vs. Oklahoma State. Chad Leistikow/HawkCentral.com
IOWA CITY, Ia. — Iowa’s “Grapple on the Gridiron” outdoor wrestling concept is already a record-smashing hit.
More than 20,000 tickets have been gobbled up for the season-opening Nov. 14 dual meet vs. Oklahoma State. The $10 single-dual seats were made available to the general public Thursday, and by 5 p.m. the total number had grown to 21,162. Online sales were expected to continue through the night.
The NCAA single-dual attendance record is 15,996, set by Penn State in 2013. But, weather permitting, that mark will be shattered just over six weeks from now.
The “Grapple,” which is scheduled for 11 a.m. at Kinnick Stadium and will precede that night’s Iowa-Minnesota football game, was introduced in early August. At that time, head wrestling coach Tom Brands (who signed a contract extension Thursday) wasn’t sure how many fans would pour into 70,585-seat Kinnick. But he was confident wrestling loyalists and football tailgaters would show up in droves no matter the weather.
“The important thing is we’ve got fans out there that embrace this sort of thing,” Brands said then. “They’re nutty enough themselves.”
Iowa sold more than 4,000 tickets in the first two hours after they went on sale at 8 a.m. Thursday. The event clearly spurred season-ticket sales, too. Iowa had sold 5,448 season tickets (at $80 apiece for seven dates) as of Thursday, up 13.6 percent from 4,797 last year. The Hawkeyes have led the nation in home wrestling attendance for nine consecutive years.
The first 25,400 “Grapple” tickets sold are guaranteed a reserved seat (and the best views of the mat near the South end zone) at Kinnick; after that, tickets will be categorized as general admission. Students will be admitted free (as general admission), but they still need to secure a ticket by logging into their UI Athletics ticket account. The general public can get tickets online at hawkeyesports.com, by calling 1-800-IA-HAWKS or in person at the Carver-Hawkeye Arena ticket office.
If inclement weather forces the dual inside to Carver-Hawkeye, some fans who already have tickets will be out of luck – only the first 15,000 purchased were guaranteed a seat under that scenario.
Iowa and Oklahoma State are the two most successful college wrestling programs, having combined for 57 NCAA championships.