Tony Sanchez may get his wish.
The first-year UNLV coach remarked at his weekly press conference on Tuesday that he was hoping for a crowd around 30,000 for the Rebels’ home opener with 13th-ranked UCLA on Saturday night at Sam Boyd Stadium. And despite going head-to-head against Floyd Mayweather’s fight against Andre Berto in his well-orchestrated bid to get to 49-0, Sanchez may get his wish.
UNLV officials said that already over 25,000 tickets have been sold for the game as of Thursday afternoon. Season tickets have reached 4,500, about 500 more than last season, a minor miracle considering the lack of interest during the final months of the Bobby Hauck era when you literally couldn’t give away tickets to a Rebel football game.
You have to go all the way back to Sept. 4, 2010 for the last time UNLV hit the 30,000 mark for a home game. The Rebels drew 31,107 for a 41-21 loss to Wisconsin in Hauck’s coaching debut, and well over half of that crowd was rooting for the visitors.
A crowd of 29,898 attended UNLV’s bowl clinching 45-19 victory over San Diego State on Nov. 30, 2013. The last time the Rebels sold out Sam Boyd Stadium was on Oct. 13, 2007 for a 24-14 loss to BYU.
UNLV’s largest crowd last season was just 20,151 for the Fremont Cannon battle with the Wolf Pack.
REBEL BLOCK PARTY DEBUTS: Because the biggest crowd in years is expected Saturday, the parking lots at Sam Boyd Stadium will open early for fans at 2:00 p.m.
That’s the same time that the all-new Rebel Block Party pregame experience will open to the public. Located in the northwest parking lot, the 64,000-square-foot area will offer a variety of food trucks and a frozen treat station on-site to leading up to the 7:30 p.m. kickoff.
The Block Party will also include a free Kids Zone featuring a face painter, balloon artist and bounce house.
Fans are also being encouraged to gather at the Block Party to help the UNLV cheerleaders and Star of Nevada Marching Band greet Sanchez and his team as they make their inaugural Rebel Walk into the stadium. Team buses are scheduled to arrive just before 5:30 p.m.
Following the Rebel Walk, a free concert will begin at 5:45 p.m. as appearing live on the Rebel Block Party Stage this week will be local musician Jeremy Cornwell. The Runnin’ Rebel basketball team will also sign autographs starting at 6:15 p.m. The first 10,000 fans entering Sam Boyd Stadium will get a 2015 UNLV Football schedule magnet.
NEW UNIFORMS FOR REBELS: UNLV will debut special black uniforms for Saturday’s contest.
The school tweeted out a photo of the spiffy new garb Thursday. Here’s what they look like:
— UNLV Football (@unlvfootball) September 10, 2015
Schools officials stressed that the game is not an official “Black Out” and encouraged UNLV fans to wear their favorite Rebel Red, gray, black or white outfits to the game. No give-away in terms of black shirts will be done in conjunction with the game.