The hype for Iowa wrestling this season has been at a level unseen in years -- and for good reason. Iowa has the best team they've had since they last won a national championship, in 2010. They're the consensus #1 team in the nation right now. They also have the best home dual meet schedule they've had in ages, with visits from Wisconsin, Nebraska, Ohio State, Penn State, Minnesota, and Oklahoma State to Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Those are the teams currently ranked #8, #2, #7, #3, #16, and #9 right now.
So it doesn't come as a huge surprise that Iowa announced that season tickets are sold out -- and that all tickets for the massive Iowa-Penn State dual on 1/31/20 are also sold out.
And yet... this is still a really big deal. Iowa says they've sold a school-record 7,715 season tickets for this season. To put that into perspective, that figure alone would rank #2 in last season's average attendance rankings -- and, again, that's only season tickets. It doesn't include any tickets sold for individual dual meets. Iowa has led the nation in attendance for 13 straight years and it's a virtual certainty that they'll be able to extend that streak to 14 straight years this season.
The better questions are perhaps whether Iowa can top 100,000 fans in total attendance for their dual meet slate this year -- or whether they can average over 10,000 fans per dual. The latter seems very plausible, while the former will be impossible. Iowa's already had 10,000+ in attendance for each of their first two home duals -- 10,466 at the UT-Chattanooga dual and 10,603 at the Wisconsin dual. They have five duals remaining against Nebraska, Ohio State, Penn State, Minnesota, and Oklahoma State. To top 100,000 fans in total attendance, they would need to get another 78,931 fans in those final five duals -- which would be an average of 15,787 fans per dual. That's a problem, given that CHA's capacity is listed at 15,077.
But averaging 10,000+ per dual meet seems like a very attainable goal. They've already drawn 10,000+ to two of their least-enticing (on paper) duals, in UT-Chattanooga and Wisconsin. The Penn State is already sold out, which ensures a crowd of 15,077 in attendance. The Nebraska and Ohio State duals will each feature highly-ranked teams (Nebraska is actually currently ranked #2 by some services, though that is likely to change by the time they visit CHA in January) and seem like shoo-ins to draw over 10,000. That leaves the duals with Minnesota and Oklahoma State -- two of Iowa's oldest and bitterest rivals. Both the Gophers and Cowboys are down from their recent heights this year, but they bring some name value to the marquee. And if Iowa is still undefeated after navigating the Nebraska-Ohio State-Penn State gauntlet, I suspect the hype for this team will be at even more of a fever pitch with March just around the corner, which ought to entice some more walk-up sales. Single-meet tickets for the Nebraska, Ohio State, Minnesota, and Oklahoma State dual meets are available here.
Averaging 10,000+ for a dual meet schedule would be tremendous -- and something that's happened only rarely in the past. Iowa posted a total attendance of 97,325 -- and an average attendance of 12,166 -- during the 2015-16 season, but those figures were goosed significantly by the Grapple on the Gridiron event that drew 42,287 fans for a single event. To draw over 80,000 fans -- and over 10,000 per dual meet -- on a schedule without any sort of gimmicked event like Grapple on the Gridiron -- would be an eye-popping achievement in the world of college wrestling.
And as far as the sellout for the Iowa-Penn State dual... it's simply extraordinary. A dual meet at one of the biggest venues in college wrestling is already completely sold out -- almost two months in advance of the actual event itself. I can't recall the last time CHA was sold out for a dual meet -- perhaps a Penn State dual at some point in the '10s. Hell, it's not as though CHA regularly sells out for men's basketball, either -- I believe the Iowa-Michigan game at CHA earlier this year ended up being a sellout, but those are few and far between for the hoopsters as well.
The atmosphere at CHA for a dual meet is almost always really good. But the atmosphere at CHA for Iowa-Penn State should be absolutely electric. That is going to be must-see viewing. Is it the end of January yet?