The College Football Playoff (CFP) championship game between Auburn and Clemson is next Monday, but fans are so disinterested that ticket resellers can’t give them away, ESPN is reporting.
By all rights, Monday’s game between the Crimson Tide and the Tigers should be the biggest college game of the year. And it may yet wind up being just that: on TV, anyway. But as for butts in the seats, it’s looking like it’s going to be a bust.
The sports industry refers to ticket resellers like StubHub and TicketIQ by the more business-like “secondary ticket market,” and on that market, tickets to the CFP are going for less than what you’d pay for a parking space at some NFL games.
Over on TicketIQ, for example, the “get in” price (that is, the lowest price for the worst tickets) was $135 – less than half their face value ($475). On StubHub, you can get tickets for even less: $115. And prices may yet be trending downward, with the game just days away.
By comparison, secondary-market tickets to last year’s CFP Championship Game started at $1,752.
NCAA officials are looking at the very real possibility of empty seats at its championship game and may have to cover those seats with tarps – as is oft done at less-prestigious, thinly-attended bowl games – to give the illusion of a full house.
Clemson makes it official: Dexter Lawrence won't play in the national championship game https://t.co/b6GD6ta0mD— SI College Football (@si_ncaafb) January 3, 2019
So why the almost-measurable disinterest in what should be one of the biggest sporting events of the year? By most analyses, it comes down to two things.
Long story short, the two southern schools have been so dominant at football for so long that fans are just kind of “meh” about the whole thing. Alabama has been it so often in the past few years, as has Clemson, facing either another school or each other, that it’s deja vu all over again for fans.
Location, Location, Location
But the biggest factor, says just about every analyst consulted by ESPN, is the NCAA’s bizarre decision to host the game in Santa Clara, California. Simply put, the Bay Area is more of a pro-sports area, not a college-sports hotbed. In fact, California as a rule generally struggles to fill NCAA stadiums.
Jesse Lawrence, the founder of TicketIQ, says that Bay Area fans aren’t going to battle rush-hour traffic on a Monday night for a college game in the dead of winter. And the “home bases” of Alabama and Clemson fans are thousands of miles away. Which means that going to the game means an additional thousand bucks in airfare and an expensive hotel room.
“It’s a big ask for fans to come, and that’s why we’re seeing the prices the way they are.”
The CFP championship game airs Monday, January 7, at 8 p.m. Eastern Time on ESPN.