News broke yesterday that Oregon is using Groupon to try and sell the last 3000 tickets to the Oregon/Arkansas State game this weekend. To many, this looks to be pretty desperate. We've gotten used to selling out Autzen without a second thought. But over the past few months (and even years), fans have complained about the rising cost of season tickets (and required donations to the athletic department).
With many fans upset about the prices, many are choosing to stay home and watch the game, rather than trek to Autzen, especially for a night game.
But despite fan outrage, I don't see prices changing anytime soon. In fact, I think that what is happening is just about exactly what the Oregon Athletic Department wants.
By recent reports, there are 3,000 tickets left to the season opener on Saturday night, a mere 5% of the stadium capacity. From a purely economic standpoint, Oregon has gotten about as close as it can to maximizing revenue to the game.
At $66 a ticket, with 51,000 tickets sold, Oregon is grossing $3.37 million. Let's assume that they had dropped the price of tickets to $56 each, which would almost guarantee a sellout. At that price, Oregon would gross $3.02 million in ticket sales. Even if we assume extra sales for standing room only, the Ducks make significantly more from the higher ticket prices.
Obviously, this is simplifying an issue that has a ton of different factors. Parking, concessions, apparel all bring in money on gameday. Also, if season tickets can be sold, extra donations may be brought in, depending on the level of the ticket. But I don't believe those losses would make up for the lost revenue of lower ticket prices.
Last year during the Rose Bowl, there were many conversations on this site about how scalpers were making a lot of money and pricing out real fans. Many commenters on this site wished the money instead went to the athletic departments. Well, that's what we're seeing. The U of O has priced tickets (at least for this game) at a level that cuts out the middle men and have found a pretty good price point for the supply and demand of tickets.
Yeah, the sellout streak is in jeopardy. But that ultimately doesn't matter. What matters is maximizing revenue, and it seems like Athletic Department has done that very skillfully. With Autzen Stadium near capacity, ticket prices aren't dropping. And if it sells out once more, tickets will only continue to rise.