A longtime tradition at Nebraska football games appears to be no more.
Red balloons will no longer be supplied around Memorial Stadium prior to games, Nebraska athletics director Trev Alberts said during his hour-long appearance on the Huskers Radio Network.
For many years the balloons have been released after the first Husker points, though a few stray ones were known to escape someone’s grip prematurely.
“This isn’t a great update for those fans that love the red balloons, as do I. We’ve talked a little bit in the past about the balloons and the environmental impact and it’s a real thing. We’ve continued to do the balloons, but this year is a little bit different,” Alberts said Monday night. “While we’re still concerned about the environmental impact of the balloons, the reality is requiring helium in today’s day and age … Some of the production of it is challenged and it’s been really hard to get. So we’ve sort of been asked by the university, the helium that we are getting from the university we need to use for medical purposes at UNMC and Omaha.”
Alberts said there would be work done with the marketing department, whether it’s digitally or by other means, to keep alive the tradition in its own way.
The Huskers AD also provided an update on the season-ticket situation for the upcoming Nebraska football season, with Alberts saying the renewal rate is around 92 percent.
“Somewhat in line with what it’s been recently, a little bit less than what it has previously been but again want to thank our fans,” Alberts said. “When you do the math, and this is a hard thing to estimate because each team will request a certain amount of tickets and it will be depending on how much they sell. But we have roughly between 3,700 to 5,100 tickets to sell for various games So we do have some work to do in that area and depending on the game, some of those games have fewer tickets to move, some of them up too 5,100.
“So I just want to be transparent with our fans about the challenge ahead of us.”
Nebraska on Tuesday introduced a “3-Game Mini-Plan” in which fans can purchase tickets for one game in September, October and November for $180, which is a $30 discount off single-game ticket prices.
The mini plan includes a choice of September matchups between North Dakota (Sept. 3) and Georgia Southern (Sept. 10), an October choice of Indiana (Oct. 1) or Illinois (Oct. 29), and in November fans can choose either the Minnesota (Nov. 5) or Wisconsin (Nov. 19) matchups. The only 2022 home game not available in a package is the Sept. 17 matchups with Oklahoma.
Seating locations for tickets available through the 3-Game Mini-Plan are in the North and South end zones.
Alberts said he doesn’t expect any scrapping of Big Ten divisions before this season at least. Knowing how everything shifts nowadays, he added with a laugh, “Now that could change.”
There does seem to be support for moving on from the divisions in the Big Ten at some point.
“I think a lot of the athletic directors in the Big Ten that I’ve talked to are proponents of scrapping the divisions, and saying the two best teams ought to get a chance to play for the conference championship,” said Alberts, adding that’s also his opinion.
While some leagues are scrapping divisions, Alberts noted that the Big Ten is currently in a middle of a media rights negotiation process, so that might cause the league to be a little later in making changes since a lot of scheduling is impacted by what television partners are looking for too.
While a lot has changed in the world since Nebraska originally agreed to play in Dublin, Alberts told a caller the Huskers are excited to play against Northwestern in Ireland on Aug. 27.
“We wish more of our fans would have an opportunity to get over to Ireland but I do recognize and understand what the challenge is,” Alberts said. “I know the hotel prices are a challenge as well … But I think the Cornhusker fans that are scheduled to be in Ireland, if it isn’t 3-to-1, it’s 2-to-1 over Northwestern fans. So the Husker fans as always have showed up and we’re going to have a great ‘home-field advantage’ over there.”
A caller was disappointed in Purdue baseball not playing its game Saturday, with the Boilermakers and Maryland not playing due to weather issues.
It impacted Nebraska because the Huskers needed top-seeded Maryland to beat Purdue one more time to shift the winning percentage numbers enough for Nebraska to get into this week’s Big Ten Tournament in Omaha. As it is, the Nebraska season is over.
Alberts said “you’re hoping and trusting your colleagues are doing everything they can to get the games in” and said Nebraska’s Dennis Leblanc made several calls on behalf of the Huskers to check into that situation. “I think that Dennis felt comfortable that those two schools were reasonably doing what they could to get the game in. Yes, we’re disappointed. Obviously we’re disappointed to not be in Omaha, but as Will and I talked – and this isn’t me talking, this is Will – at the end of the day we have nobody to blame but us.
“We had multiple opportunities this year to win a couple (more) games to get ourselves into the tournament. The real lesson here is make sure in the future we don’t put ourselves in a position to have to hope that a game gets played where there’s a chance and a threat of weather.”
Alberts said he believes despite this year’s disappointing season that Nebraska has a really good baseball program and he told that to Bolt.
“We’re disappointed to not be in the tournament but I think you’ll see a different team next year.”