BCS Tickets Won't Be Cheap
The Columbus Dispatch
December 4, 2007 by Rob Oller
Ohio State fans planning to follow the Buckeyes to the BCS bayou bash in New Orleans need prepare for a national championship game double whammy: spending pocketfuls of green to get in, only to be surrounded by giant pockets of purple and gold.
The only thing more eye-opening than the BCS title-game ticket prices -- possibly as high as $1,500 just to enter the gates -- will be the number of Louisiana State University fans flocking to the Louisiana Superdome for the game on Jan. 7.
With LSU's campus in Baton Rouge just 70 miles from the Big Easy, fans of the Tigers consider Bourbon Street an extension of their driveways.
"I would imagine the majority there will be LSU fans," Ohio State ticket director Bill Jones said.
Ohio State fans, meanwhile, might need to lean on second incomes to afford the trip -- that is, if they can even cop a seat inside the 72,000 capacity stadium.
"This is going to be one of the toughest tickets ever, because it's a 'backyard' game," said Randy Cohen, who runs the online ticket-brokering company TicketCity.com. "And it should rival the (2006 national championship) Texas-USC game, which was $1,500 the day of the game just to get in. That was a monster game because it also was a backyard game for USC, and Texas had not been there for a long time."
Ohio State and LSU both have played recently in title games, the Buckeyes last season and in 2002 and the Tigers in 2003, but rabid fan bases at both schools, combined with a limited number of tickets available to the public and the Superdome's smaller (than the Rose Bowl) seating capacity, fully activates the law of supply and demand, Cohen said.
Prices for the 407 tickets available on TicketCity.com yesterday ranged from $1,150 to $3,000 for fans purchasing them separate from a university bowl package. The average price for last year's title game between OSU and Florida was $795.
"The good thing is, you have a lot of tickets that are being given to the university," Cohen said. "The bad news is, Ohio State is going to have 35,000 fans who want to go down to this thing because they're some of the greatest fans in the history of the planet."
Each school receives 16,000 tickets, while the remaining 40,000 tickets are distributed among bowl sponsors, travel agencies, BCS officials and other athletic conferences. Many of those tickets are resold to brokers or scalped. Don't be surprised if LSU fans end up with the majority of those.
That was the case the last time LSU played for the national title in New Orleans, when it defeated Oklahoma 21-14 in the 2004 Sugar Bowl.
"All the (extra) tickets seemed to find their way into LSU hands and not ours," said Billy Ray Johnson, Oklahoma's assistant athletics director for ticket operations.
Jones heard that LSU fans began buying up title-game tickets weeks ago, but it's likely the demand slowed after the Tigers lost to Arkansas in their final regular-season game, which appeared to end their chance of reaching the championship game.
After LSU jumped from No. 7 to No. 2 to earn a title berth, however, the floodgates likely opened. For one thing, the bowl trip would cost LSU fans far less than Ohio State fans, whose travel expenses are much higher.
Mary Beth Romig, spokeswoman for the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau, said finding a hotel room will be a lot easier than scoring a ticket to the game. New Orleans has more than 32,000, and many are still available. "I'd act very quickly, though," Romig said.
Although no airline has a regularly scheduled flight from Columbus directly to New Orleans, travel from central Ohio could become easier if Skybus Airlines adds a flight to Biloxi, Miss.
A decision is likely this week, a spokesman said.
Dispatch reporter Steve Stephens contributed to this story.
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