By Eric Hansen
The South Bend Tribune
SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Notre Dame football is ready for prime time.
At least its football schedule is.
This fall, for the first time in 21 years, the Irish will play at night game at Notre Dame Stadium.
Kickoff for ND’s rivalry renewal Oct. 22 with USC will be 7:30 p.m. EDT. It will be the eighth night game in stadium history overall.
“We are very excited about the opportunity to play host to a home night game,” Notre Dame Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick said in a statement. “While we will do this only on a selective basis, we think it is important to occasionally use the platform of a prime-time game to promote the university and our football program.
“When you look back at the previous home night games we’ve played, a number of those have been hallmark events in the history of our program. We are confident this year’s USC game will continue that tradition.”
Four of the other five games scheduled for Notre Dame Stadium in 2011 will kick off at 3:30 p.m. EDT. The home finale, Nov. 19 vs. Boston College, will have a 4 p.m. start time.
The most recent night game played in Notre Dame Stadium occurred Sept. 15, 1990, a 28-24 victory for the No. 1-ranked Irish over No. 4 Michigan.
Other previous home night games came in 1982 against Michigan, 1984 against Miami, 1985 and 1987 against Michigan State, 1988 against Michigan, and 1988 against Stanford.
The Irish are 6-1 in night games on their home turf.
ND’s night game will cost ticket-holders $10 more each than home games in 2010. So will two other 2011 home games. The university, for the first time, will go to variable game ticket pricing for its home football schedule.
Tickets for the Irish against Michigan State (Sept. 17), USC (Oct. 22) and Boston College (Nov. 19) will cost $80. Prices for games Sept. 3 against South Florida, Oct. 8 versus Air Force and Oct. 29 against Navy will be $70, the same as the single-game price in 2010 for all games at Notre Dame Stadium.
“The reality of our budgeting process is that football ticket revenue is critical to our ability to contribute to the university’s academic programs and finance our other varsity sports,” Swarbrick said. “We are fortunate in that every Notre Dame home football game has been sold out for more than four decades.
“In that light, we’ve determined this is the most prudent model to enable us to accomplish our overall budgeting goals while continuing to make sure that our games remain affordable. This approach allows us to provide our fans with options.”
Notre Dame has an off-site home game in prime time (7:30 p.m. ET), Nov. 12 against Maryland at FedExField in Landover, Md. Tickets for that game will range from $50-$130.
NOTRE DAME 2011 SCHEDULE
(All times Eastern)
Sept. 3 SOUTH FLORIDA 3:30 p.m.
Sept. 10 at Michigan 8 p.m.
Sept. 17 MICHIGAN STATE 3:30 p.m.
Sept. 24 at Pittsburgh TBA
Oct. 1 at Purdue TBA
Oct. 8 AIR FORCE 3:30 p.m.
Oct. 22 USC 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 29 NAVY 3:30 p.m.
Nov. 5 at Wake Forest TBA
Nov. 12 vs. Maryland* 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 19 BOSTON COLLEGE 4 p.m.
Nov. 26 at Stanford TBA
*at FedExField, Landover, Md.
Staff writer Eric Hansen: