For most of us, college football tickets are an expensive luxury, particularly when those games are played in pro venues. For instance, Alabama vs. Michigan State Cotton Bowl ducats at the Cotton Bowl pushed nearly $300. And, just a week later, Clemson vs. Alabama nosebleeds in Phoenix set you back $550...at face value.
The SEC, home of some of the nation’s poorest states, also features some of the nation’s most obscenely priced tickets; not just for neutral site gougings, but for regularly scheduled conference meetings.
From ticket vendor, Rukkus, we get this chart, and it is a painful one for those of you looking to attend a marquee SEC game this season and having to buy on the secondary market:
Some of these prices will only increase. If, as we suspect, the West is decided when Alabama travels to Baton Rouge, there is no way that ticket is going to stay at $481. Likewise, if A&M rebounds, and the Vols have a special season, a seat for that one will set you back $206. Others — like the Iron Bowl, in all probability — will see a price drop as the game looks to be non-competitive owing to the performance of one of the rivals.
While pricing for SEC conference games are volatile, and usually only subject only to the depth of fans’ checkbooks and dis/content with their program, the good news is that there is a way to curtail the expense of nonconference season openers and playoffs. However, the workaround is one that coaches of marquee programs will never agree to, and that is to stop scheduling neutral site games.
Five of the seven most expensive tickets for SEC games this season are at pro venues, places wholly removed from the campus experience: Virginia Tech-Tennessee at Bristol Motor Speedway; Alabama-USC in Dallas; the World’s Largest Outdoor Sexual Harrassment festival in the Jaguars’ house, etc. And, it particularly makes no sense when the two teams at a neutral site already have gorgeous palatial stadiums, insane fans, and picturesque campuses — the LSU Tigers should not be traveling to Lambeau Field to meet the Wisconsin Badgers. Alabama fans should be able to see Traveler cross the midfield as the Trojan plants his gladius at midfield.
The college game is not the pro game, thank God. Part of our love for CFB is its intersectionalism: it is meeting other fanbases at their house or outdoing visitors with hospitality. It is about seeing one another’s cheesy-but-charming in-stadium hype tactics (looking at you, Scott Cochran jumbotron videos.) However, despite the costs to programs, and despite the undoubted fan expense verging on the oppressive, so long as the World Wide Leader has a near monopoly on season-opener broadcasts, and so long as these games serve double duty as recruiting pit stops, then the Schmidlapp Frostee and Craigslist Classic between Northern Illinois and Wake Forest at Arrowhead Stadium isn’t going away anytime soon.