Winning prompts giving

The scramble for priority seating to watch the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl has boosted membership in the Ragin’ Cajuns Athletic Foundation, meaning more “gifts” or dollars to support athletics at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, university officials said Thursday.

“Gifts have been coming in because they want priority seating at the New Orleans Bowl. We’ve had just over $35,000 in new gifts,” said Ken Winstead, the university’s senior associate athletic director in charge of external operations, such as fundraising.

The football game will feature ULL (8-4) versus the East Carolina University Pirates (8-4) at 11 a.m., on Saturday, Dec. 22, in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. It will be televised by ESPN.

Since the announcement that ULL was returning to the bowl game, the foundation’s membership increased from 1,679 members in late November to more than 1,750 as of Wednesday, Winstead said.

Thursday was the final day for current members or new members to join and receive priority seating opportunities to watch this year’s bowl game which ULL won last year, defeating San Diego State, 32-30.

Brian McCann, the university’s sports information director, said that as of Monday, ULL had sold more than 14,000 tickets. “It’s been busy this week,” he said.

The university has at least 30,000 seats it can sell, and last year, ULL sold just under 18,000 tickets, McCann said.

“We’ve been assured by the New Orleans Bowl people that we have plenty of tickets for sale,” he said. “We basically have one half of the stadium.”

Initially, the university set aside 1,500 tickets for students, but that allotment went quickly and additional sections were opened up to expand the student zone, referred to as the “Red Zone” at Cajun Field, McCann said.

After the Thursday deadline for foundation members to purchase tickets, seats will start to be assigned and tickets will be mailed out, McCann said.

“They’ll seat RCAF members by priority. Then we’ll seat students by the time that they ordered tickets. They were first-come, first-served,” he said.

Next, season ticket holders will be placed for seats based on time they ordered, followed by the general public, McCann said.

McCann said he expects tickets will be available through Dec. 21 and he encouraged fans to purchase them through the university.

“One of the most important things that affect how well you get represented in bowls in the future is showing a history that your fans will attend the game,” McCann said.

Other Louisiana teams also received post-season bowl bids.

The University of Louisiana at Monroe (8-4), a fellow Sun Belt Conference member, will face Ohio (8-4) in the Independence Bowl at 1 p.m., Friday, Dec. 28, in Shreveport. LSU (10-2) will face Clemson (10-2) in the Chick-fil-A bowl at 6:30 p.m., Monday, Dec. 31, in Atlanta. Both games will be televised by ESPN.

McCann credited fan support of purchasing more than 17,000 seats last year from ULL with a quick bowl selection.

“They announced us before the rest of the leagues’ bowls were finalized,” he said.

Another advantage, McCann said, is “we have the best seats.”

ULL seats are all located on one side of the entire field — no corners or end zone seats, McCann said.

“If you buy through the Bowl, you don’t know who you’ll be sitting by,” he said. “You could be sitting by some nice East Carolina people.”

To purchase tickets, visit www.ragincajuns.com.