Georgia Tech’s marquee game on the 2014 home schedule will be its Nov. 15 game against ACC rival Clemson.
The athletic department is considering an auction-style sales format to maximize revenue from the game.
“I think the growth of the secondary ticket market has spurred this, as people have seen a third party profiting significantly on high-demand games and saying, ‘Well, you know what? We sure could use those resources,’” Tech athletic director Mike Bobinski said.
Tech staffers have been in contact with counterparts at Northwestern, which sold single-game tickets for two premium games last season using a version of a “Dutch auction” suggested by Northwestern economists. Every dollar counts at Tech, which continually struggles to break even financially and doesn’t fully fund scholarships for its track, cross country and swimming teams.
At Northwestern, the school sold single-game tickets for its games against Ohio State and Michigan using a modified auction. It established prices for three different tiers of seats and then lowered the prices based on demand until that tier sold out. Ticket buyers who purchased at a higher price were refunded the difference between their price and the final, lowest price. There was also a “floor price” that the school wouldn’t go below to avoid selling for less than what season-ticket holders paid.
Those going in at a higher price “are not going to feel like they got burned,” Northwestern assistant athletic director Ryan Chenault said. “The benefit, too, is if you jump in early, you get the better seats.”
Chenault would not provide sales figures, but noted that the final sales price for sideline tickets for the Ohio State game was about $190. The Michigan tickets sold for more than $100. As a comparison, the 2012 game against Nebraska, Northwestern’s highest ticket price was $70.
Chenault said there wasn’t much pushback from fans as marketers were proactive in explaining the auction. It was also pitched as an added benefit for season-ticket holders, as they could secure tickets for those premium games and avoid the auction.
“It makes (season tickets) a lot more attractive,” Chenault said.
In fact, Northwestern reached an all-time high for season tickets sales, surpassing even the years following the Wildcats’ Rose Bowl trips.
Tech’s consideration follows the trend in professional and college athletics to adjust ticket prices based on the opponent as well as the popularity of ticket re-sale websites such as Stubhub. Tech already sets different prices for ACC games and the Georgia game compared to other non-conference games.
Though Tech has yet to put tickets for the 2014 season up for sale, a seller on Stubhub was asking on Monday for $217.60 per seat for tickets to the Clemson game in Section 111, the northernmost section on the west sideline. Last year, tickets for ACC games were $40 and the Georgia game was $90.
“Instead of letting (ticket re-sellers) do that, why don’t we get into that business somehow, some way and capture that differential?” Bobinski said.
At a Tech Athletic Association board of trustees meeting in January, where the auction idea was presented, school president G.P. “Bud” Peterson had his own revenue-capturing suggestion for the Clemson game.
Said Peterson, “Charge ’em an extra 20 bucks if they wear that ugly purple and orange.”