Some Griz football fans have worked themselves into a lather over Eastern Washington's current ticket policy, in which one can buy single game tickets - say, to Eagles' game against Montana on Sept. 18, in Cheney, Wash. - only if he or she joins the Eagle Athletic Association.

For example, two tickets for Sept. 18, which is the first game played on the new red turf at EWU's Woodward Stadium, come with the added price tag of a $120 donation to the EAA.

Guilty, says Eastern athletic director Bill Chaves.

"If you want to look through the lens of, ‘I want my ticket today,' than that is an accurate statement," Chaves said Wednesday.

Taking a step back, however, allows fans who can wait until Sept. 1 to avoid the EAA fees. Single-game tickets go on sale that day at 11 a.m. Mountain Standard Time, and while there may not be as many as in year's past, there will be quite a few left over. No EAA fees will apply.

Chaves said that Eastern's current policy has been in place for awhile, dating back to before he took over as AD in 2007. It's geared to raise funds and also drive up season ticket purchases, since a season ticket is comparable in price to joining the EAA for priority seats.

It possibly caught Griz fans by surprise because of the date of this year's game; it is the Big Sky Conference opener for both teams. The 2008 game in Cheney was on Oct. 11, and it drew 10,830 fans.

Another factor is that just 500 tickets were allotted to UM to sell, compared to around 2,000, by Chaves' estimation, for the last game in Cheney.

That may have helped Montana fans outnumber Eastern fans on the Grizzlies' last three trips to Cheney. Those games drew the top three crowds in stadium history, with a high of 11,583 in 2006.

An e-mail from EWU's ticket manager, Troy Kirby, said 72 percent of the tickets for the Sept. 18 game had been sold. Woodward Stadium normally has a capacity of 8,600 but increases to 10,800 with the addition of temporary bleachers. Using Kirby's math, some 7,700 tickets are accounted for.

That leaves roughly 3,100 left, and they'll likely go quick. The game may not be quite as maroon as it has been the past three trips - especially with that new turf - but there should be Griz fans aplenty.

And, Chaves hopes, more EWU supporters.

"Each year you're attempting to get as much season ticket support as possible," he said. "Then it's a known quantity of revenue coming in. Anything we can do to encourage ticket sales and donations to the EAA is a good thing for us.

"Certainly we want to try and get as many season tickets sold as possible. Obviously that's the goal."

Eastern had the turf completely installed as of Wednesday. Sports information director Dave Cook said the Eagles would practice on it for the first time Friday.

The Grizzlies, meanwhile, are 11 days from their 2010 opener at home against Division II Western State out of Gunnison, Colo. They had two sessions Wednesday - their final two at the South Campus fields - and have a scrimmage set for 9:15 a.m. Thursday inside Washington-Grizzly Stadium.

Griz coach Robin Pflugrad said he plans a short scrimmage this time around, after Saturday's run to 93 offensive plays, with more on special teams.

"Our legs are tired and this is showing up," he said. "We are lacking a little speed due to physical exertion. We've been out here running around for 19 practices, so that is going to show up."

The Griz did welcome receiver Sam Gratton back to practice this week, after a groin injury from the first scrimmage slowed him up. Dan Moore, who missed the second scrimmage with a concussion, is back at full speed.

Also seen at Wednesday's practice: Tackle Jon Opperud, though he sported a non-contact jersey.

Junior corner Donny Lisowski injured an arm in the first scrimmage but has returned to limited practice.

QUICK KICKS: Thursday at 6:30 p.m. fans are invited to the Great Griz Encounter at Caras Park. The 90 Griz who are participating in fall camp will be there, and Pflugrad will introduce UM's All-American and honors candidates ... Montana SID Dave Guffey pointed out that Gerald Kemp, converted recently from QB to RB, had 11 carries for 61 yards in UM's 49-17 win over Portland State last Sept. 19. ... Transfer corner Houston Roots was cleared to practice Wednesday by the NCAA clearing house.

Fritz Neighbor can be reached at 523-5247 or at fneighbor@missoulian.com.

 

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