Football: Ticket prices for Oregon game skyrocketing

Nov. 10, 2011, 1:50 a.m.

Supporters of college football’s Bowl Championship Series often argue that while the ranking system has its flaws, it makes every matchup more exciting by turning them all into playoff games.

 

Last weekend’s LSU-Alabama clash may have been the Super Bowl of the college season — 100,000-plus screaming fans made Tuscaloosa seem more like Lollapalooza. But this week, the spotlight is fixated on the Farm, and the matchup between No. 4 Stanford and No. 6 Oregon is the hottest ticket around.

 

Ticket prices for this weekend's Stanford-Oregon game have been steadily rising in anticipation of the Pac-12's biggest showdown. (SeatGeek.com)

Prices for the game have spiked in the last three weeks, jumping from an average price of $174 per ticket all the way to a peak of $420 per ticket this week. All told, there has been a 300-percent price increase for sales through secondary ticketing sites since September.

 

Will Flaherty is the Director of Communications at SeatGeek.com, a sporting event and concert ticket search engine that promotes its “data-driven ticket search,” allowing users to look at prices from over 50 secondary ticket sites like StubHub, eBay and RazorGatos.

 

Flaherty noticed some remarkable trends when he examined the data for Saturday’s game, particularly considering the enormous spike in demand in the immediate lead-up to game day.

 

“If you had bought tickets to this game in August, or even early September, you could have gotten in for $100 dollars no problem,” he said. “Now you’re seeing prices that are putting it right in the rarefied air that usually is reserved only for the fiercest rivalry games and things like LSU-Alabama.”

 

The game has cornered the secondary ticket market in terms of price, with weekly averages mirroring those of USC and Notre Dame’s annual meeting, the Iron Bowl between Alabama and Auburn, and last year’s LSU-Bama brawl in Baton Rouge.

 

With ESPN’s College GameDay making its first-ever trip to Palo Alto to cover the game, both teams ranked in the top six, compelling figures on both sides of the ball in Andrew Luck and LaMichael James, as well as national championship implications, it comes as little surprise that prices have jumped up.

 

But few at Stanford are used to seeing the glass ceiling shattered in such a manner, from players on the football team to older students that remember the half-empty stadiums of four and five years ago.

 

“It’s great to see [demand for tickets so high],” said junior running back Stepfan Taylor. “I didn’t know how much tickets were selling for, but that’s amazing and really a testament to the players that we have and what we came and have fought together for. We want the crowds coming to the games, I guess high-priced tickets means people are coming to see us,” he said.

 

Also remarkable were the manner and speed with which the prices moved. On Monday, the average ticket price was up to $381 dollars, peaking on Tuesday morning at around $420 per ticket.

 

Ticket volume — the number of tickets actually sold — was two times greater on Saturday night than it was a day earlier, according to Flaherty, as both the Ducks and Cardinal won their respective games to set up the showdown.

 

“People have had this date circled on calendars for months,” Flaherty said, “Maybe even since the second that Andrew Luck declared he’d come back for his senior year. Pac-12 fans everywhere knew that was probably the game of the season in the conference, and now it’s getting recognition around the country.”

 

And while LSU-Alabama still ended up with much higher prices overall — the cheapest tickets during the final week of buildup to that game were selling for a little under $400 dollars a pop — it will still cost you upwards of $200 to get in the door on Saturday night.

 

That price spiked dramatically, as you could still find a few tickets for under $100 dollars on Sunday and even Monday evening. But by Tuesday at noon, General Admission tickets were up to $125, and five hours later they’d risen to $160. On Wednesday afternoon, the cheapest tickets on SeatGeek were going for $225 — tickets that had a face value of about $30 dollars.

 

David Vargas, Stanford’s director of football marketing, said that although this game is clearly a once-in-a-decade event, the numbers can’t be ignored.

 

“The secondary market is not a fad,” he said, “It’s a reality. When people are buying tickets at $320 it says that there is enough appetite and discretionary income to afford those prices. From our marketing perspective, that isn’t our objective, to raise costs. We want a full house and a great experience, and we will get that Saturday.”

 

When compared to many of the traditional football powerhouses, Stanford does not have a very large alumni base to draw support from, and what alumni it does have are more dispersed geographically, making for a tough environment.

 

But Stanford Stadium has a capacity of 50,000 fans, half as many as can cram into Bryant-Denny Stadium at Alabama, and demand has certainly exceeded supply for what is going to be just the eighth sellout in the five years since the University renovated the old Stanford Stadium, knocking out 35,000 seats in the process.

 

“We are building the brand of Stanford Football and have invested in marketing to extend our reach and our awareness geographically more than ever,” Vargas added. “That being said, there is nothing like a successful team. Winning is the best deal in the sports world.”

 

As of Wednesday night, the most expensive tickets for the game were listed for just over $1,100 dollars on StubHub, with several tickets already sold in the $700-dollar range, according to SeatGeek.

 

“It’s just awesome,” said junior fullback Ryan Hewitt. “You want to play in front of a sellout crowd and you want to play in front of a home crowd that’s there supporting you. When they turnout and it’s a big game like this, that’s all you can really ask for.”

 

Miles Bennett-Smith is Chief Operating Officer at The Daily. An avid sports fan from Penryn, Calif., Miles graduated in 2013 with a Bachelor's degree in American Studies. He has previously served as the Editor in Chief and President at The Daily. He has also worked as a reporter for The Sacramento Bee. Email him at [email protected]

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