From Playoff to the Peach Bowl: A Look at Ticket Prices
Many of our readers may recall that before the season began, I was approached by Devin Herzoff of Interdependence Relations. He wanted to have me and TickPick guru Jack Slingland debate the expectations of football fans and their effect on ticket pricing.
After Auburn’s regular season concluded with an Iron Bowl victory, Mr. Herzoff approached me again with some data on current prices for the SEC Championship versus other conference championships. What was interesting was the fluctuation of the SEC Championship ticket in the six days following the Iron Bowl. There was much speculation that the rabid Alabama Crimson Tide fan base, many of whom already owned tickets to Atlanta, would be unloading them in short order, flooding the market and driving down the price. Furthermore, fewer fan bases travel better than the Tide fans, and there was a possibility that there might be a supply and demand issue that would make for cheaper tickets. Of course, with Auburn and Georgia being the closest teams to Atlanta, it was expected that each would bring a big contingent. According to Mr. Herzoff: “The average listing price increased 43% after the Iron Bowl on 11/26. With Alabama winning it the last three years, having a new team in Auburn from the SEC West ended up leading to a spike in prices.”
Not unexpectedly, the SEC leads the way with an average price exceeding $830. That was double the next competitor, a $325 ticket to see the ACC Championship. Again, even a cursory glace into the stands during those conference championship showed that the SEC continues to be king, at least in demand for tickets.
With Auburn’s defeat in the conference championship game and Alabama’s invite to the College Football Playoff after having its hopes dashed just the week before, I was interested to see how ticket prices had changed for the playoffs. Mr. Herzoff was quick to help. “The price of the Sugar Bowl game before the SEC championship was $579.00, and after the SEC championship game on Dec. 2nd, the price for tickets on Dec. 3rd was $622.00. The price currently sits at $523.00 as of today.”
Obviously, there are a lot of moving parts that would explain average ticket prices and the subsequent shifts. Alabama fans who sold their SEC championship tickets after the Iron Bowl were presented a second chance. With the extra money from selling SEC Championship tickets, they became able to afford a previously unplanned trip to New Orleans. Perhaps the sheer joy of making the Sugar Bowl caused fans to throw caution to the wind and to purchase tickets at a price they may have balked at just two weeks earlier.
Much of that could also be attributed to a rubber match with Clemson, who defeated Alabama in the national championship game with a last second touchdown last January. Clemson fans, on the other hand, likely held serve on their tickets as Miami was a fairly sizable underdog in the ACC Championship. That would surely drive up available ticket prices for Alabama fans.
After an initial run on tickets immediately following the announcement of the playoff teams, ticket prices began to slide, eventually receding to $50 cheaper than before the SEC championship.
What about Auburn’s current destination? Auburn will once again play in Atlanta, this time against an undefeated UCF team that couldn’t find a way into the playoffs despite its undefeated record. Current prices sit at $244 per ticket, currently the cheapest ticket for a New Year’s Day bowl game. What is interesting is that, despite pairing two teams that aren’t far from the destination, tickets are still available directly from Auburn for $150 although UCF sold out its allotment in less than 24 hours.
The Cotton Bowl represents quite a drive for Ohio State and USC as does the Fiesta Bowl for Penn State and Washington. Still, those tickets are tougher to find. Wisconsin may have to travel to Florida for the Orange Bowl, but its fans have always traveled well and it shows with the $290 ticket.
It would appear that Auburn fans aren’t very happy with their bowl game destination. This is an interesting aside for a team that didn’t look capable of ten wins in the early part of the regular season.