NEW YORK — When Boston College landed an invitation to play Penn State in the Pinstripe Bowl Dec. 27 at Yankee Stadium, it seemed the Eagles had overcome their stigma as a bowl team that did not travel well.
Now, with Penn State having already sold out its allotment of tickets, it seems incumbent on BC to follow suit if it is to truly rehabilitate its image.
“We fully expect to be sold out,” BC athletic director Brad Bates said Tuesday during a press conference at Yankee Stadium. “We’re going through a little more deliberate process than I think Penn State. The biggest challenge for us is to take care of as many people as we can, particularly those who have been loyal to us and have been coming to games and supported us.
“Because it’s a tight stadium [49,542 capacity for football], we’re probably not going to make everyone happy, but to have demand like that at Boston College is fantastic.’’
Bates said it did not require much of a hard sell by him and coach Steve Addazio to convince bowl officials that Penn State-BC was a perfect matchup.
“I think all along they saw it was a great matchup,’’ Bates said. “There was a rivalry there between two Northeast teams, two great institutions, strong fan base in the area. So at the end of the day, it wasn’t really much of a sell.”
Mark Holtzman, the Pinstripe’s executive director, said the selection committee was bowled over by BC’s presentation, particularly when Bates laid out the figures on the fan base, and estimated how many could attend given their proximity to the game.
“I was staggered when Brad Bates made a presentation and he showed me the amount of alumni within 60 miles, the amount of kids who are going to be home from school,’’ Holtzman said. “I mean, it’s incredible. So that really stood out.
“In Brad and Coach Addazio, I don’t think you could have two better salespeople for their school.’’
Duke also was under consideration for the ACC’s Tier One Bowl slot in the Pinstripe, which is in the first year of its conference tie-in with the Big Ten and the ACC.
“There were a lot of schools that wanted to play here and there were a lot of schools that would have translated here,’’ Holtzman said. “But at the end of the day, [BC] just did a great job.’’
“We broke it down by areas and we also showed historical data,” said Bates. “For example, we took over 10,000 people to West Point three years ago, and that’s in West Point, it’s not in New York City.
“So we put together [a presentation] and it wasn’t an embellishment by any stretch of the imagination. It was a true depiction of how many people live in this area. Boston College is an international university, but its center is in New England.’’
Addazio said he has hit social media hard, trying to drum up BC support for the game.
“This is in your backyard, and there needs to be a great Boston College turnout,’’ Addazio said. “And I’m sure there will be. There has to be.’’
Ticket demand is expected to be great among BC players, 90 percent of whom hail from the New York-New Jersey-Pennsylvania area.
While several players have already begun lobbying teammates from farther-flung parts of the country such as Florida and Georgia, Bates said the school would make sure to accommodate its player requests.
“You’re limited what you can give to them, complimentary-wise,’’ Bates said. “But if you could’ve seen the players when Steve told them where we were going, it was so electric. It was so exciting. That was fun.’’
“Yeah, it was a natural fit and how much it meant to our kids,” said Addazio. “It’s all about the kids, and they want to have a great experience and they want that and we want that.’’
First-year Penn State coach James Franklin said the invitation to the Pinstripe Bowl was meaningful for his team (which went 6-6) since it marked a return to postseason play after the school was hit with a four-year bowl ban two years ago as part of the sanctions in the aftermath of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal.
The NCAA lifted the ban in September.
“It’s part of the healing process for us,’’ Franklin said. “The opportunity to be in a bowl game, in the first place, and have extra practices are important. Being relevant at this part of the season is also important, so people are watching you on TV and recruits are being able to see you as well.
“I think our kids are also excited going forward that there’s no limitations on us anymore. We can get back to 85 scholarships eventually and we can play in big-time bowl games like the Pinstripe Bowl and other games moving forward and I think that’s exciting.”
Michael Vega can be reached at email@example.com.