SBD/Issue 232/Collegiate Sports

College Football Ticket Prices Rise Despite Down Economy

Tickets To Oklahoma-Texas Game
At The Cotton Bowl Will Cost $110

Single-game ticket prices to "high demand" college football games in the six BCS conferences and Notre Dame rose to $61.26 this season, up 12% from two years ago "despite a national economic slump," according to Rachel Bachman of the Portland OREGONIAN. Single-game tickets to each school's cheapest game of the season rose 5%, to an average of $37.55.  Univ. of North Carolina College Sport Research Institute Dir Richard Southall said, "I'm frankly surprised that they haven't gone up a little bit more. ... This is one of the golden ages of college football." Bachman noted the Big 12 "commands the nation's richest ticket prices." The Nov. 27 Oklahoma-Oklahoma State game has a $125 face value, "topping all others" in the study and up $25 from '08, when the game was last played at OSU. The Oklahoma-Texas game at the Cotton Bowl "carries a price of $110," and the Nov. 25 Texas A&M-Texas game is $100, "the first time the Longhorns have had a $100 ticket, much less two." Big Ten schools "charge a nation-leading average of $46.27 for low-demand games," while the Pac-10 "remains the place to be," as the conference's $27.60 average for a low-demand game was the cheapest of the six conferences. High-demand game prices in the Pac-10 "increased a modest 8 percent, and low-demand game prices increased 2 percent." Bachman noted the ACC was the nation's only BCS conference to "decline in two years," as its $31.92 average price this season is down 3% from '08. Meanwhile, tickets prices in the SEC, "which has led the nation in total attendance for 12 consecutive seasons, remain in the middle of the pack despite a nation-leading 23 percent increase in the cost of a high-demand ticket" (Portland OREGONIAN, 8/15). Bachman offers an in-depth look at ticket prices in the ACCBig East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-10 and SEC.

TRENDING BACK TO A BIG OPENING: The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Darren Everson notes schools and conferences are "slowly coming around to the idea that the money they can earn" from big early-season matchups "may be worth the risk of hanging an early loss on the team." The Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game is a "neutral-site showcase game in Atlanta" that started in '08 and will feature LSU-North Carolina this year. The game pays out $2-2.5M per team, which is "more than several bowl games." Meanwhile, Boise State will play Virginia Tech at FedExField on Labor Day night in a matchup of two top-10 teams, and Pac-10 Commissioner Larry Scott "recently mentioned the idea of playing an annual kickoff game against the Big Ten." Everson notes September "used to be one of the shiniest months of the college-football season," as "a few decades ago, the month was full of exotic matchups between high-profile schools from different conferences." There were 128 "non-conference games between two big-name college football powerhouses" in '80, but in '00, that number was "down to 76, or just 38%" of all non-conference games. An extra week was added to the season in '06, which "did generate more marquee matchups" -- there are 96 this season. But in percentage terms, the "rate at which these games have been played has remained flat" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 8/17).

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