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While Football Ticket Prices Soar, Auburn Struggles to Profit

Thursday, December 11, 2014   (0 Comments)

Wall Street Journal (11/12/14) Cohen, Ben; Schwartz, Lisa; Arnesen, Ingrid

Increasing college football ticket prices have driven Auburn University's athletic department to take extraordinary measures to sell tickets for major games. "When supply exceeds demand, we have to move tickets," says Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs. "To that [end], we turned to our top donors, and they came through for us." Auburn officials say they first sent emails to top donors offering them extra seats, a strategy that failed. They then contacted some of their most reliable buyers and encouraged them to purchase large blocks of seats. For example, for the Nov. 30, 2013, Iron Bowl game, 13 different donors each bought more than 20 tickets at their $95 face value, while four bought more than 50 each. A dismal record for Auburn's football team in 2013 had a direct bearing on the school's ticket problems, in which season ticket sales declined about 5 percent for that year, leaving several thousand seats open for single-game sales. By the time Auburn had four home games left for the season, the school opted to offer ticket packages to all of the remaining games, and the university says 447 of the 555 tickets sold were purchased by eight people thought to be scalpers. Auburn's Cassie Arner says the school did not sell tickets for several key tournaments to the general public partly because it did not want scalpers to end up selling them to rival fans.

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