High price of Georgia tickets creates tough decisions for fans

Decisions, decisions.

Some Georgia Bulldogs football fans with tickets to Monday’s national championship game against the Alabama Crimson Tide are weighing whether to keep the valuable tickets or sell them. Ticket brokers like StubHub say the average price is nearly $2,700, more than five times the face value of some tickets.

And that’s a bargain in comparison to asking prices for low-row club seats at the 50-yard line. Prices on ticket reselling sites reached as high as $25,000 apiece, and one seller offered a suite for $94,000.

Georgia law has some regulations for resellers such as StubHub, though many states have had trouble enforcing the laws. The state allows individuals to resell a ticket for any price, though sellers on game day have to stay about half a mile from the stadium.

The prices have spiked, in part, because Georgia hasn’t played for the championship since New Year’s Day 1983. Another factor impacting the clamor for tickets is location: The game will be played at Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium, a quick road trip for fans of both teams. Even President Donald Trump is flying here to watch the game. Fifty percent of StubHub ticket buyers live in Georgia, the company reported.

Sandy Springs resident Mike Callahan said the idea of selling his two tickets was enticing, but he just can’t do it. Callahan couldn’t attend the New Year’s Day Rose Bowl Game against the Oklahoma Sooners, so he gave both his tickets to his wife, who took a friend.

“It’s tempting when you see how much the tickets are going for,” said Callahan, who graduated from UGA in 1986. “I didn’t get to go to the Rose Bowl, so I’m not going to miss out.”

Dan Cooper, 35, said he might consider selling his two tickets only if he got enough money from it to buy two other game tickets online. “I was asked how much would I sell them for and the price point is when I could buy tickets on StubHub,” said Cooper, who lives in Midtown.

Cooper, a 2004 UGA graduate, has been at every big win this season, including the September victory in Indiana against Notre Dame, the Southeastern Conference (SEC) championship game against Auburn and the Rose Bowl. He is planning to go to the big game with his dad.

“I will be in that stadium. It’s not an option,” he said. “You don’t go that far (to see those prior games) and not miss the big game.”

The universities of Alabama and Georgia each received 20,000 tickets, according to College Football Playoff executive director Bill Hancock. The schools sold most of their allotments to donors and season-ticket holders at face value, which ranges from $375 to $875.

Cooper and others said the University of Georgia emailed season ticket holders in November with ticket options for the SEC Championship, a variety of bowl game possibilities and the national championship game. UGA uses a point system to determine which season ticket holders get tickets to those games. It’s primarily based on how much ticket holders contribute to the university’s William C. Hartman Jr. Fund, which was created to fund facility construction or renovations, student-athlete scholarship endowments and coaching endowments.

UGA began alerting season ticket holders eligible for tickets to the national championship a few days before Christmas.

More Georgia fans apparently tried to get tickets to the SEC Championship and the Rose Bowl, fans said in interviews and on sports talk radio.

“I don’t know why they didn’t (request those national championship tickets), but God bless them for not checking that box,” said Cooper.

UGA’s 37,000 students are finding it tougher to get tickets. The university received 500 that are available for free to students. They are allocated based on number of credit hours each student has earned and then a lottery, UGA officials said Wednesday.

Some UGA students were considering the unthinkable to go to the game.

“We’re honestly thinking about skipping spring break at this point so we can go to the game,” UGA graduate Sarah Swinehart told Channel 2 Action News.

Some students who did receive tickets from the lottery were quick to resell them. When SEC Championship tickets were awarded, Facebook groups were littered with posts by students buying and selling tickets for much more than the $60 student price. So far, there seem to be fewer posts about tickets for sale to the title game.

UGA student Parker DeFreese has followed the Bulldogs across the country all season, attending every game, but when Georgia heads to Atlanta for their 15th and final game of the season, he will be in Athens.

Not by his choice, of course. He wasn’t awarded a ticket from the UGA lottery. With skyrocketing prices, DeFreese, who was waiting to board a plane at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport Wednesday afternoon, just can’t afford it.

“I spent the last $1,400 to my name to go to the Rose Bowl,” said DeFreese, who also didn’t get a Rose Bowl ticket from the lottery and had to buy his own.

UGA senior Josh Lavine, who went to the Rose Bowl, has searched around, but can’t find any he could afford.

“I’m definitely still holding out hope, but at this stage I’ve accepted that it is very unlikely (I get tickets),” he said. The cheapest ticket he saw, $1,650, was still too much for the senior.

Athens resident Charles Wise, 46, and his brother, Chris, 44, got tickets to the game through the university. Their family have been season ticketholders since the early 1980s, when Georgia was a perennial national championship contender. The brothers thought they’d be going to championship games every year, but that hasn’t happened until this season. No way they’re selling their tickets, Charles said.

“I’m 100 percent going to the game,” he said.

Freelancer Nate Harris, staff writers Tim Tucker and Chris Vivlamore contributed to this report.

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