College Football National Championship Ticket Prices Hit Record Lows
The College Football Playoff final will be a rematch of a rematch. Clemson and Alabama are set to do battle with the national championship on the line on January 7 in Santa Clara, California, in what will be the third meeting between the teams in the national championship game in the last 4 years.
While nationwide interest in the game is high, the game itself is struggling to sell tickets. According to ESPN, ticket prices for the game have been trending downward in a big way over the last several days. A couple of reasons for the pricing dip may be that the game is taking place in California, which is over 2,000 miles away from Alabama’s campus in Tuscaloosa and Clemson’s campus in South Carolina. The fact that this will be the third national title game meeting between the programs in the last 4 years may actually mean that some fans are left wanting something more fresh.
Northern California also isn’t exactly a college football haven.
Jesse Lawrence, the founder of TicketIQ, told ESPN, “It’s sort of a perfect storm of factors at play this year. It’s a big ask for fans to come, and that’s why we’re seeing the prices the way they are.”
TicketIQ says tickets are now available for as low as $135 per seat, which is down 50 percent from where the same tickets were priced prior to the national semifinals just before the new year. The face value price for the tickets is a whopping $475.
StubHub had seats for as low as $115 as recently as Wednesday evening, which is less than double the price of a parking pass for the game.
Pro Sports Dominate NorCal
The College Football Playoff committee selected Santa Clara as a host site for the title game with the hopes of expanding college football’s fanbase. Local programs like Stanford and Cal are not teams that draw tons of fans to begin with, and the Bay Area is much more of a pro sports region than a college sports region. Local professional teams like the Golden State Warriors, San Francisco Giants and Oakland Raiders have no issue drawing fans.
The PAC-12 Championship Game is hosted every year at the same venue, and some seats have to be covered with tarps due to a general lack of attendance and fan interest.
Tickets for the national championship game are vastly cheaper than tickets to last month’s SEC title game between Alabama and Georgia, which took place in a college football hotbed in Atlanta. Both Alabama and Clemson still have plenty of tickets available for the title game in addition to those available on secondary marketplaces like StubHub and TicketIQ.
Lawrence added, “It’s actually not surprising. I think it’s predictable or expected based on 2 factors.”
The campuses at Alabama and Clemson are an average of 2,428 miles from Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, which is obviously the most glaring issue. It’s the longest average distance between campuses and the national title game site since TicketIQ began tracking such things in 2011.
Even if tickets to the game are affordable, airfare and lodging are not. The average round-trip flight from South Carolina and Alabama to Northern California were averaging around $1,000, while hotels in the Bay Area are also extremely expensive.
The average cost of a ticket for the first meeting between Alabama and Clemson was $202 back in 2016 when the teams met in Glendale, Arizona. That game holds the current record for cheapest tickets for the national title game. This year will mark the fourth consecutive season in which Alabama and Clemson have played each other in the College Football Playoff, including the third time they will play for the championship.
Big Drop From 2018
Last year’s championship game between Alabama and Georgia was quite the hot ticket. The game took place in Atlanta, which is an average distance of just 136 miles from both campuses. The average ticket price for that game was $1,752 on the secondary market, which was higher than the ticket prices for the first Alabama-Clemson rematch in Tampa in 2017.
Lawrence said he believes the tickets would be a bit more expensive if Notre Dame and Oklahoma were playing in the game, but he added that the substantial distance between the site and campuses would still have kept the prices down.
He said, “You can overcome the lack of novelty if the location is good, but even in a situation where there is novelty, location will trump. The best example of that is Alabama-Clemson 1, which was in Glendale, Arizona. That was the first time Clemson had been, there was a lot of novelty there. Alabama had been there before, but it was still the first of the matchups and highly anticipated, and that was a $200 get-in price.”
College football struggles to attract casual fans the way college basketball’s “March Madness” does. The Final Four is hosted in a different city each year, but more casual fans are willing to make the trip to the Final Four every year than the college football national title game. As a result, ticket prices are less susceptible to such wild fluctuation for the basketball tournament.
The national championship game is set to take place on Monday night starting at 8:00 pm Eastern time.
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