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BYU football: 15,000 BYU fans headed to Dallas for 1st game

Published: Sunday, Aug. 2 2009 12:00 a.m. MDT

Like these BYU fans in Seattle last fall, thousands of the Cougar faithful are making plans to take a trip to Texas for the season-opener next month. (Matt Slocum, Associated Press) Like these BYU fans in Seattle last fall, thousands of the Cougar faithful are making plans to take a trip to Texas for the season-opener next month. (Matt Slocum, Associated Press)

A self-proclaimed "college football junkie," Travis Scoresby brings his lunch to work every day instead of succumbing to the temptation of eating out in order to save money for priceless opportunities like this.

On Labor Day weekend, the Salt Lake resident will be making his first visit to Dallas to watch BYU take on national power Oklahoma at the Dallas Cowboys' brand-new, state-of-the-art, retractable-roofed, 80,000-seat (expandable to up to 100,000 seats), billion-dollar stadium in Arlington, Texas.

It will mark the inaugural college football game played at that venue.

Scoresby is one of thousands of BYU fans making plans to attend BYU's season-opener against Oklahoma, which will be televised by ESPN, on Sept. 5. Never mind the Cougars haven't beaten a nationally ranked non-conference opponent since 1998. Never mind these are tough economic times.

Like these BYU fans in Seattle last fall, thousands of the Cougar faithful are making plans to take a trip to Texas for the season-opener next month. (Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News) Like these BYU fans in Seattle last fall, thousands of the Cougar faithful are making plans to take a trip to Texas for the season-opener next month. (Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News)

Those factors aren't keeping typically frugal Cougar fans away from this much-anticipated showdown in Texas.

BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe expects 15,000-plus blue-clad BYU fans in attendance at the BYU-OU game at a stadium he calls the "Taj Mahal" of the world's sporting venues.

No way is Scoresby missing out on this one. For him, watching the Cougars and the Sooners — who are expected to be ranked in the preseason top 5 and boast 2008 Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford — collide in this unique stadium is tantamount to a college football feast.

What's more, he plans to road trip to New Orleans the following week to see the Cougars play Tulane at the Superdome. He estimates this 10-day trip will cost him about $600.

"I'm not rich, but I can guarantee 10 years from now I won't regret spending that $600, instead of eating out more," Scoresby said. "I have friends that think I'm crazy to go on a 10-day trip for football, but the reality is football is a catalyst that invites us to go to new places, experience new things, and ultimately bring our family and friends together. Some families hunt together; some go to Lake Powell. My family goes to football games. It has been a tradition for several years now for many of my family and friends to go to one of the non-conference away games. It's a great excuse to go somewhere new."

Holmoe said he's not surprised by how many Cougar fans have purchased tickets.

"I'm very pleased. I'm really proud of our fans," he said. "This is something they want, and when they got the opportunity to go, they didn't back down. There are a lot of people who are excited to be a part of it. There are a lot of college teams in the country that would never get a shot at this game. I really think it's a tribute to our football program, which goes back to LaVell (Edwards) and now is being run by Bronco (Mendenhall) and all the players who have brought us to this point. But it's also a tribute to our fans, that we wouldn't have gotten this game if we didn't travel well. It's a tribute to BYU fans. It's a feather in our fans' caps that we got this game. They responded how they should. I really appreciate that."

Scoresby said financial sacrifices will be worth the cost, no matter the outcome.

"In the last couple of years I have gone to several cities that likely would not have been a typical vacation destination and have had great experiences," Scoresby said, mentioning he attended the BYU game at Boston College in 2006. "Some of those games BYU didn't win, but that hardly put a damper on the overall enjoyment of the trip."

There were four ticket prices available for the BYU-OU game, with the cheapest being $51.75 and the most expensive set at $153.75. Fans also could purchase seats for $82.50 or $102.75 apiece.

One Cougar fan living in Omaha, Neb., said he is struggling financially, having recently graduated from law school. But he's headed to Dallas anyway. He figures the trip could cost him upwards of $1,500, including $150 for his ticket to the game.

So why is he is going?

"This game is huge," he said. "And yes, BYU can win it. Will they? I have no idea, but I will dance in the streets like a drunken baboon if they do."

When Cedar Hills resident Scott Baird heard the announcement about the BYU-OU game in January, he excitedly told his wife, Tami, about it.

"Well, you better start saving your money so you can go," she replied.

Baird, who works for Salt Lake County, has a side job doing oil paintings and teaching art classes — which is how he paid for his trip to Dallas. "So it didn't really come from the family budget," he said.

Baird and three friends bought a package that included airfare, hotel and rental car for $485 per person, not including $82 per ticket.

Another Cougar fan, from Connecticut, said he is making the 1,700-mile trip to Dallas at a cost of $750 "for the chance to witness what I guarantee will be an upset. If BYU wins, it will be a huge upset on national television. And if OU wins, I'll be hugely upset."

Matt Grant, who lives in the Dallas area, said he'll be attending the game with his family of seven — at a cost of $82.95 per ticket.

As for the outcome, Grant isn't too optimistic. "There will be a sea of red (Oklahoma fans) at the game, and I admit I don't like our chances," he said. "Counting food, parking, and tickets we could have bought a nice LCD flat screen to watch a lot more games instead of the four hours we will spend at the game. I think most here, including my family, are going for the experience — the 60-yard HD screen, the 100,000 seats, and the fact it's the first game in the stadium."

Chad Vest of Spanish Fork said he is going to the BYU-OU game, along with his wife, thanks to his sister's generous in-laws, who are taking care of the flight and hotel arrangements. "We'll take plenty of money for food and souvenirs since nearly everything else was given to us for free," Vest said. "It's Christmas in September. How do you repay someone for a gift like this? This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and we can't wait to go down there and take it all in."

Lamont Larsen, a BYU graduate who grew up in the Dallas area, is driving to the game from Denver with his father and brothers. "It will be the biggest game for Texas BYU fans since the 1997 Cotton Bowl," he said. "We don't have to beat OU; we just have to show that we can hang tough with the 'big dawgs.' But if we beat OU, we will shock the world. Tickets … $50. Gas money … $200. Parking … $30. A (BYU receiver) McKay Jacobsen 50-yard touchdown catch … priceless."

e-mail: jeffc@desnews.com

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