Taking Stock of This Season's Ticket Options The opinions expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect those of the Austinist or anyone else in the Ist network.
By Jeff Beckham
Although DKR-Texas Memorial Stadium now holds more than 100,000 people, it still can be tough to get a ticket for a Longhorn home football game. The secret to snagging great seats lies in knowing the ways of the stock market. Here's what you need to know to be the Buffett of the box seats, rather than the Madoff of the mezzanine.
First, there's the bottom line. There are six home games, with ticket prices for each ranging from $65 (Louisiana-Monroe) to $95 (Texas Tech). But as any good financier will tell you, the price of an item isn't always the same as its value. You can get tickets for the Sept. 5 opener against Louisiana-Monroe for less than face value now, but tickets for the Tech game on Sept. 19 are already garnering premium prices.
Now consider your limitations. No need to beat yourself up, but be realistic. Everyone has a budget. Think about how much you can spend and look for the best available ticket that's in your price range. Finally, consider the risk-reward tradeoff. How confident are you that the ticket you buy from the friendly gentleman outside Scholz's is really on the 40-yard-line, lower-deck, in the shade?
With those pieces of information in hand, let's look at the available portfolio of stocks, er, games. The Tech game is clearly the best -- the GOOG of the bunch -- high-priced and worth it. Over at TicketCity, a local ticket reseller, tickets are going for $125 at a minimum, $30 more than face value.
On the low end (the penny stocks), there are the games against Louisiana-Monroe, UTEP, and Central Florida. All can be had for less than face value now, some for as low as $40 a ticket. The games, however, leave a lot to be desired.
The best values may be found in the middle, with conference games against Colorado and Kansas. Texas should be undefeated and highly ranked when they play the Buffaloes on Oct. 10, the last home game before the showdown with Oklahoma in Dallas. Although the ticket price is $80, you can get seats for $65 and expect that those prices will rise as the game gets closer.
The Nov. 21 game with Kansas is also a $80 ticket, with seats available from resellers for as little as $69. The Jayhawks could be one of the best teams in the Big 12 North, and a late-season matchup, especially if Texas is unbeaten at that time, will certainly draw a sellout.
"I wouldn't rule out those later-season games," said TicketCity Chief Operating Officer Zach Anderson. "Demand is going to go up if Texas gets on a roll. Texas fans are known to spend money and they come out to support a winner. Right now, the potential on Colorado and Kansas is better than ever."
When it's time to make your purchase, you've got options there as well. Buying tickets through UT is certainly the safest choice, but those seats won't be the best in the house. You won't be sitting close enough to hear Mack clapping or Muschamp cussing, at least you'll have a seat to call your own.
For a little more flexibility, consider the secondary market with ticket brokers like TicketCity. They offer a money-back guarantee on undelivered tickets, and you can often find better seats there that'll get you close enough to snap a photo of Colt.
You can also find great deals on eBay and craigslist, but use the same care you would buying anything there: Buy from a local seller if possible, don't wire money or send a money order, and if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Finally, you can buy tickets from people on the street on the day of the game, but exercise the the most caution there. You might be buying extras from a friendly couple who had friends drop out at the last minute, but you also might be buying fake tickets. Anderson told a story of a couple who payed thousands of dollars for national championship game tickets, only to find that they were counterfeit. Folks arriving late to the UT-Tech game last season in Lubbock suffered a similar fate.
In the end, tickets are a commodity, Anderson says, and their price fluctuates based on any number of outside influences. Showing the game on pay-per-view makes demand go up, but rain in the forecast sends it back down.
"When you start your search, get as much good information as you can" Anderson said. "Know what's in your budget, and that includes not just tickets but also parking, food, souvenirs. Then set your expectations to match."