College football games aren’t cheap, either


Last week we looked at the high cost of attending a Vikings game, but is attending college football games significantly cheaper than pro football games? To quote Les McCann and Eddie Harris — compared to what?

Using again Team Marketing Report’s Fan Cost Index (FCI), the average cost of a Gopher football game for tickets, food, parking and game souvenirs is around $400, nearly $50 cheaper than a Minnesota Vikings game.

“I think we’re one of the lowest ticket prices in the Big Ten,” U of M Deputy Athletics Director David Benedict told the MSR last week. “Based on where we are in relation to our conference peers, we are very affordable because we are on the low end of the scale.”

We examined football single-game ticket prices at all 12 conference schools, as well as Maryland and Rutgers, who both are expected to join the Big Ten in 2014.

Illinois: $25-$99

Indiana: $40 (non-conference); $50 (Big Ten)

Iowa: $70

Michigan: Up to $120 and as high as $200 depending on the opponent

Penn State: $70-$140

Michigan State: $50-$80

Gopher fans may need to visit a bank  to enjoy their team games. MSR file photo
Gopher fans may need to visit a bank
to enjoy their team games.
MSR file photo

Nebraska: All seats sold in season ticket packages except student seats

Northwestern: Tickets sold in “auction-style” fashion

Ohio State: $79-$110

Purdue: $85

Wisconsin: $45 non-conference; $55-$65 conference

Rutgers: $99-$364

Maryland: $159-$329 (non-Terrapin Club sections)

Minnesota: $70 (one non-conference game and one conference game)

Cheaper for students?  

Ohio State charges $144 for a four-game conference student ticket package. Indiana has $60 student tickets. Purdue students are charged $119 a season ticket. Illinois has a $99 student season ticket package that includes a free ticket to a non-conference game played at Chicago’s Soldier Field; unless they have personal transportation, these students must also add a Mega Bus round-trip fare. Nebraska student ticket prices are $189, but their students can use their student IDs to attend games in 13 other programs for free.

Michigan uses a “dynamic pricing” scheme for students and non-students alike to buy tickets. “Pricing dynamically will allow us to adjust single-game ticket prices upward or downward based on real-time market conditions,” says a school marketing person.

The lowest priced ticket for last Saturday’s Minnesota-Iowa game reportedly was $89.  “There are different options” to buying Gopher football tickets, claims Benedict.

However, most if not all Big Ten schools each fall rake in big bucks selling football tickets: Michigan last year took in over $46 million dollars. Penn State, which is on probation, made $33.4 million, and no conference team, including the two incoming schools, made less than $4 million last season.

Minnesota made $11.2 million. That’s a lot of money for a team that hasn’t been to the Rose Bowl since I was midway through kindergarten.

“Whether I think it is affordable or you think it is affordable, everyone has a different opinion on what one thinks is affordable,” argues Benedict. “We look at opportunities all the time where we can make it more affordable where we can. We have done some $20 tickets for some of the preseason games. Some of [the other Big Ten] schools won’t have single-game tickets available because they sell out on a season basis.”

Is it cheaper to stay home and watch these games on television? It appears very much so. After the U of M’s 23-7 home loss last Saturday to Iowa, we have to wonder if it’s really worth 400 bucks just to see a team predicted to finish last in its conference division.

I can hear McCann and Harris humming in the background.


Information from various sources was used in this report.

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