COLLEGE PARK — After declines in attendance at Washington's RFK Stadium over the past two years, Military Bowl officials say they hope to sell out this year's game between Maryland and Marshall at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis on Dec. 27.
The first-ever bowl game at a service academy represents a fresh start for the bowl, which drew an announced 17,835 for last year's San Jose State-Bowling Green matchup at the 46,000-seat RFK Stadium.
Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium will hold about 33,000 for the game, and "we are hopeful that [a sellout] will happen," said Steve Beck, the game's president and executive director. "All of our suites and VIP areas are sold out, but there are still good seats remaining in the stadium."
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The 5-year-old Military Bowl, formerly the EagleBank Bowl, has scheduled game-week events in the nation's capital and a game-day parade in Annapolis.
Maryland said Friday that it had sold about 7,000 of its allotment of 10,000 tickets.
Marshall, which got 7,500 tickets, had sold a little more than 3,000, according to the school.
The schools' figures don't account for all of the tickets sold. Tickets are also available through the bowl game; officials declined to say exactly how many have been purchased.
The bowl is accepting donations for free tickets for military members and their families. It plans to give away 3,000 tickets.
Attendance at the bowl game has dipped since Maryland's last appearance drew an announced 38,794 for a Terps victory over East Carolina in 2010.
But Beck said the new site is a natural fit and that the game "is on a real incline."
The bowl game, which benefits the United Service Organization, pits an Atlantic Coast Conference team against a representative of Conference USA.
Next season, the game will feature an ACC team against an American Athletic Conference school. Bowl officials are hopeful of moving up in the ACC pecking order. This year, seven bowl games — not including the Bowl Championship Series national championship game — selected ACC teams before the Military Bowl made its selection.
Tickets are available through Maryland (umterps.com), Marshall (herdzone.com) and the Military Bowl (militarybowl.org).