Barta focuses on positives despite 6,000 empty seats

Pat Harty
Iowa City Press-Citizen

IOWA CITY, Ia. – Iowa fans answered the challenge to be bold and wear gold to Saturday's football game against Ball State.

The only other noticeable color in the stands at Kinnick Stadium was gray, which was caused by all the empty seats.

The Hawkeyes stormed back to defeat Ball State 17-13 before an announced crowd of 64,210.

Iowa athletics director Gary Barta praised the fans after the game for making a difference down the stretch. He wasn't pleased to see approximately 6,000 empty gray seats, but Barta chose to focus on the positive.

"I thought both this week and last week (against Northern Iowa) that the crowd made a difference," Barta said. "Today, they made a difference in the end. There is no doubt they made an impact.

"We hadn't sold as many tickets this week as I would have liked. But next week is sold out and I think we're going to end up selling out a lot more."

It was announced shortly after Saturday's come-from-behind victory that next Saturday's game against Iowa State at Kinnick Stadium is a sellout. There were approximately 500 tickets remaining for the Iowa State as of Tuesday afternoon.

A streak of 30 consecutive sellouts at Kinnick Stadium ended on Nov. 23, 2012, when an announced crowd of 69,805 watched the Hawkeyes' 13-7 loss to Nebraska.

"I said back in July that the sky is not falling and I still believe that," Barta said of Iowa's attendance figures. "Kinnick was still a competitive home advantage today thanks to the fans."

Some of the fans started heading to the exits with Iowa trailing Ball State 13-3 early in the fourth quarter. They missed a thrilling finish as Iowa scored two touchdowns in the final three minutes to avoid the upset.

"Not many (left early), but those that did, hopefully, they listened on the radio and were able to get excited and enjoy the win from wherever they were," Barta said.