LARAMIE, Wyo. — Fans booked hotel rooms when the matchup was announced nearly three years ago.
They began arriving early this week.
Those without tickets? Well, they may be out of luck. Tickets never went on sale to the public.
Wyoming has dubbed today’s meeting with the ninth-ranked Nebraska Cornhuskers the most anticipated home game in school history. Given the number of fans expected to descend on the Gem City, it’s hard to argue otherwise.
“The retail impact on this, I can’t imagine anything being more positive other than everything below 7,000 feet in America flooding,” said Gordon Crow, president and CEO of the Laramie Area Chamber of Commerce. “I just can’t fathom anything bigger than this.”
University officials expect more than 32,600 fans in attendance when the game kicks off at 5:38 p.m. at War Memorial Stadium.
Some estimate upward of 10,000 more — perhaps 8,000 Nebraska fans — will come to Laramie without tickets in hand. Those still searching may return home empty-handed. The popular online ticket broker Stubhub listed zero tickets for sale late Thursday night.
“There’s so many people that want to come that we can’t fit in the venue,” UW Athletics Director Tom Burman said. “It’s a big deal.”
Those without tickets have other options.
UW will keep Tailgate Park, adjacent to War Memorial, open throughout the game, broadcasting the game on a large video screen.
Those without lodging likely won’t be so lucky.
Hotels in Laramie sold out most of their rooms in the months after the announcement of today’s game in 2008. As of Thursday, hotel rooms in Cheyenne — some 50 miles away — were hard to come by as well.
“I wasn’t here two years ago when Texas was in, but I understand this is outstripping that,” Crow said.
When the dust settles, UW expects to make $1.6 million combined from single-game ticket sales, incremental season ticket sales and ancillary revenue.
The weekend boom when it comes to the city of Laramie is much tougher to predict.
“I think (businesses) think they’re prepared,” Crow said. “And I expect they’re going to be even overwhelmed with what they thought they were prepared for.”
Long circled on the calendar, Nebraska game day is finally here.