NEW ORLEANS – The mourning from the football funeral that was the end of the New Orleans Saints’ season is over. The preparations for the next football party are underway.
Tickets for Monday’s CFP title game are shaping up to be among the most expensive in the event’s six-year history. With LSU’s campus just 80 miles away and both a massive fan and alumni base in New Orleans, the ticket demand is exponentially higher than when Alabama played Clemson in the Bay Area last year.
With a get-in price hovering around $1,000 and the StubHub average price at $1,850, the question looming over this LSU-crazy city is simple: Will the ticket market spike significantly in the final hours before kickoff?
“We think we’re starting to see that next big pop into the weekend,” said Adam Budelli, the head of NCAA partnerships at StubHub.
There are a few variables that have ticket experts projecting the ticket market will climb higher. The 16-day break between semifinal games and the title game is the longest layoff in history. The market hasn’t had the same urgency as the typical break of around 10 days, which leaves the possibility for a late push this weekend.
The other thing that leaves experts expecting a late surge is geography. With most LSU fans and many Clemson fans within driving distance – or a reasonable flight because of the time to book them – the thought is that many could be waiting out the market. Not having to pay for flights and hotels rooms many make them more willing to spend on getting into the stadium to see LSU complete its sun-kissed season or Clemson extend its 29-game win streak.
“Logistics play a big part,” said Ram Silverman, owner of Golden Tickets in Plano, Texas. “The two-week break gives people more time to plan, so the flights may be a little cheaper than doing it the week of the game. Fans are going to have a little bit more money to spend toward tickets.”
Silverman said that for ticket brokers, the ultimate matchup would have been Ohio State and LSU. The Buckeyes have a much bigger fan base than Clemson, and he said that matchup would have commanded a get-in price of nearly $1,500.
This ticket, according to Budelli of StubHub, will end up finishing second in the CFP era behind the title game between Georgia and Alabama in Atlanta at the end of the 2017 season. The geography of the teams combined with the generational desperation of Georgia fans drove the buy-in price of that game to nearly $2,000. The average StubHub price for a ticket to that game is nearly $700 more dollars that the upcoming one.
Ticket brokers are just thrilled that the game has already exceeded last year’s ticket dud. With many flights to the Bay Area to watch Clemson play Alabama in the $1,000 range from places like Birmingham, Alabama, and Greenville, South Carolina, many fans decided to skip the trip. Already this year, StubHub’s total ticket sales are 43 percent higher than last year’s total.
The geography of the game has led many to predict a home-field advantage for LSU. There’s no doubt LSU will have more fans, as 40,000 of the 74,000 tickets are split evenly between the schools and the other 34,000 are to be determined. On StubHub, 33 percent of the sales have come from fans in Louisiana and another 15 percent from the LSU stronghold of Texas. Just 6 percent have come from South Carolina.
Clemson deputy athletic director Graham Neff countered that Clemson’s fan base has responded to the notion they’ll be playing a road game. He said they’ve been oversubscribed in ticket requests and he’s optimistic that Clemson’s fan base will show well.
“There’s some pride in our fan base that we really, really have to show out to try and offset the away-game type environment,” Neff said.
Where will the market end up on Monday? Randy Cohen of TicketCity in Austin predicts that the buy-in will be around $1,300 on gameday. “I think it’s going to spike a bit,” he said. “The training of LSU ticket buyers is to buy at the last second. This is one of the 10 percent or 20 percent of the time where we’re going to get a little pop.”
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