ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) -
The Lobos are expecting to see some big numbers at Saturday's home football opener. Maybe not on the scoreboard, but in attendance.
The university has already exceeded the number of season tickets sold last year, and walk-up tickets sales are up, too.
Fans expect the first Lobo game of the season to be a big one for new Head Coach Bob Davie, and University of New Mexico officials hope it will wipe away the memory of seasons of disappointing losses and empty seats.
"My first memories of my whole life are from watching Lobo's games," said life-long fan Charles Murphy. He says this season he has renewed hope that the team he loves dearly will turn things around.
"I think this season we'll actually see players that are disciplined, that will actually be in the ball game," he said. "They might now win a lot of ball games, but I don't think there will be people wanting to leave after the first quarter, like last season."
Fans say new traditions and Davie's arrival have them excited about a fresh start for the upcoming season. Last year the team had trouble filling the stands. The Lobos won just three games in three years under head football coach Mike Locksley.
The team was also ranked as the worst college football team in the nation by ESPN.
But things seem to be changing. UNM has sold more than 11,000 season tickets so far, which is 800 more than last year, and officials expect that number to grow.
"Usually we have quite a few that will purchase season tickets after the first game, so we might get close to 12,000 tickets, which would be great for us," said Kurt Esser of UNM's Athletics Department.
The university has also exceeded walk-up sales, too. So far more than 22,000 fans bought tickets for Saturday's game. That number is 1,500 more than last year, and sales aren't over.
Students say because of the renewed excitement, even if the Lobos don't start the season with a win, they will keep coming back.
"Even if it's not the best season, I think that we're going to build the program," said student Ricky Hill. "I'm very excited to see where it goes from here."
Tailgate reservations are up this year as well. In the RV section they doubled from 25 last year to 50 for the season opener.
Even though season ticket sales are up, they're still nowhere near the Rocky Long era. In 2005, more than 17,000 season tickets were sold, which is 6,000 more than this year.
The Lobos will take on the Southern University Jaguars from Louisiana in University Stadium at 3 p.m. Saturday.