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Lobo basketball: Season ticket sales on pace to exceed last year

Steve and wife Tammy Anaya were sitting in their Santa Fe home Dec. 5 trying to enjoy watching their beloved New Mexico Lobos improve to 9-0 in a win over the visiting Southern California Trojans.

For Steve, the 29-year-old Lobo die-hard who has missed just a handful of games in the past six seasons, the energetic sound of the 15,241 fans in the Pit coming through his TV set made the decision an easy one.

“We decided while we were watching that game we didn’t want to miss another one,” Steve Anaya said. “I had always been able to get tickets the day of or a day or two before the game, but with the success of the team anymore, that’s hard to do. So we said since then we were going to get season tickets this year for the first time and now we don’t have to worry about that anymore.”

While that USC game was 170 tickets short of a sell out, Anaya said he couldn’t find a remaining seat through UNM, online or any friends that was going for less than $75. The Santa Fe couple decided $150 for tickets, before the drive and food, for a nonconference game was out of their budget.

UNM sold more than 97 percent of available tickets to home games in the 2012-13 season, including 11,053 season tickets.

More than a month before the 2013-14 season, the first of the Craig Neal era for Lobo hoops, UNM had already sold 10,751 season tickets as of Wednesday, according to Mark Koson, associate athletic director for ticketing at UNM.

Most of those are renewals from last year, but when season tickets went on sale at 8 a.m. Tuesday, the Anayas were among the first in line.

“We took the day off and left our house at 6:30 a.m. in Santa Fe,” Steve Anaya said. “I’d say there were about 70 people there when they opened the doors.”

Such is the way of life at UNM, where men’s hoops reigns supreme and demand for the tickets is growing.

“Our fans never cease to amaze me with their support,” Neal said. “I know there’s a lot of excitement about this year’s team, and we know the Pit and the way fans make that such a special place is something we sell to recruits all the time. Our fans are the reason we’ve been so successful.”

Lobo season tickets are on sale at the UNM Ticket Office from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, starting at $285 for the 15 regular season games and two exhibition games ($16.76 per ticket).

UNM sold more than 11,000 season tickets in each of the final three seasons under former head coach Steve Alford after selling 9,501 in the 2009-10 season, which was the season the Pit underwent renovations. Also, the capacity for basketball games officially dropped from a shade over 18,000 down to its current level of 15,411.

Only UNLV, which plays in the 18,500 seat Thomas & Mack Center, sold more season tickets last season (11,288) than UNM.

Koson said based on the pace of sales so far, he fully anticipates passing last year’s season ticket mark.

With more than 11,000 season tickets and 1,065 made available each game to UNM students, that leaves around 3,000 single game tickets available per game for the general public and opposing teams.