Have playoff; will travel.

Imagine, if you will, being the loyal fan of a school lucky enough to qualify for the 2014 playoffs who wants to see his heroes in person.  It’ll take some planning.

Instead of one postseason bowl game to end the season in a faraway city, two teams will play in two postseason games – a semifinal and championship, both in different states.

The two semifinal games will take place in Pasadena and New Orleans on Jan. 1, 2015, with each participating team required to buy a block of 12,500 tickets to resell to their fans.

Less than two weeks later, on Jan. 12, 2015, the semifinal winners will play for the national championship in Arlington, Texas, where each participating team will be required to buy about 20,000 additional tickets, all at full price.

Is that asking too much?

Not for college football’s Baghdad Bob.

“We’re confident about the demand for the championship-game tickets,” said Bill Hancock, executive director of the new playoff. “The game will be extremely popular. We expect all four schools will offer tickets to their fans before the semifinals, and we expect the demand to exceed the supply. Of course, the demand in the host city also will be tremendous.”

Oh, those tickets will sell, alright.  But it’s a lot to ask Joe Fan to lay out that kind of serious jack, especially when he won’t even know for certain when he buys the tickets that his team will be playing in the title game.

“This ticket purchasing requirement is asking schools to make a leap of faith – hoping that these tickets can be sold to those who wish to make the trip,” said Mark Conrad, director of the sports business program at Fordham University. “Although it is less than the past requirement, the number of potential games and distance of the locations do pose risks for the schools, especially with the ability of fans to watch these games in the comfort of 50 inch-television receivers.”

It probably won’t matter, though, because whatever demand lessens from a school’s fan base will be picked up by the moneyed interests.  And the TV revenue will still be there.  It’s the first step down the road to the corporatization of college football attendance.  It won’t be the last.

Again, you wonder if a sport that owes so much to the regionalized passion it generates is well served by this.  At least you do if you’re not one of the folks cashing the checks.

27 Comments

Filed under BCS/Playoffs, It's Just Bidness

27 responses to “Have playoff; will travel.

  1. If this is a problem, then the obvious solution will be to have the semifinals on campus. Whether the muppets in charge of the playoff figure this out is another matter entirely. Slive was strongly opposed to this idea when it was floated by Delany.

    • Doesn’t that depend on how you define the problem?

      I mean, if the powers that be are worried about alienating the fan base that’s fervent with its support, that’s one thing. If they’re simply worried about protecting the cash flow, that’s another.

      • The problem that you have identified is empty seats at the playoff games, most likely the semifinals on account of fans deciding that they will save their traveling money for the final. That’s a simple problem to solve. College football fans are at least as passionate as NFL fans and the NFL doesn’t have too many problems selling out playoff games. (Yes, I know that there were issues with the wild card games last weekend, but the fact that that was a story in the first place tells you that the pattern is for those games to sell out.) Additionally, it would help major programs sell season tickets if they can pitch dibs on home playoff tickets.

        • I’m not sure empty seats are going to be that big a problem. I think Hancock’s right about overall demand. The bigger question to me is whether the people running the show care about maintaining the loyalty of the schools’ fan bases or if they’ll be happy no matter where the bucks roll in from.

          I get your point about the NFL. I just wonder if the more relevant comparison is March Madness.

          • Bright Idea

            Brando expresses it best. He makes it clear that the schools are not worried about their fan bases’ travel and economic issues because the schools are looking for new blood anyway. They already have us old guys hooked and they know it.

          • stoopnagle

            So it’s a rhetorical question because we all know they don’t give a rat’s ass where the money comes from.

          • 81Dog

            you already know the answer to the bigger question, Senator. Whichever option brings in $1 more, that’s what the people running the show care about most. Sure, they can spin it or dress it up for PR purposes, but the bottom line here, as always, is straight cash, homie.

        • Except then they can’t extract their fees from the various cities bidding to host semifinal games. I don’t think they are worried about ticket sales as much as other revenue streams here.

        • FisheriesDawg

          Do you think it would be a guaranteed sellout if the Saints and Seahawks played each other in Detroit this weekend? That’s a more relevant question than whether a team can sell out its allotment in their home city. Obviously Georgia won’t have any problem if we’re in the semis/NC in Atlanta (or New Orleans or Miami or even Dallas for that matter).

      • Anon

        I feel like this reply is valid both in this argument as well as one about UGA AA & Coach Richt.

  2. James Stephenson

    If I were in charge of this thing. I would kind of do like the basketball playoffs. Pick a couple of spots on the east coast and one on the west coast. Then pick the place that is closest to the two schools playing and boom there is the game. If for instance it is 4 southern teams, it could be Atlanta and New Orleans and then you could move the championship game to the west coast if need be.

    Just my two cents.

    • uglydawg

      That seems like a reasonable solution to my greatest concern…one team travelling 2K miles while the other team may be basically “at home”.

      • Russ

        I don’t know much but I’ll bet that the first time we make it to the playoffs our game will be in Pasadena (probably against Stanford) with a potential follow up game in Tempe.

  3. j4k372

    Just imagine when they expand it to 8 teams. Three straight weeks of travel for fans. Maybe in that scenario they will have home games for the higher seeds, which is probably something that will help sell the idea to the ADs for sure.

  4. uglydawg

    But if you give higher seeded teams home-field advantage, doesn’t that take away from the un-biased purity of the playoffs? I think it certainly does. Even in BB, the later playoffs are in central locations and not on home courts.

  5. Go Dawgs!

    This is the biggest problem with the playoff system, in my opinion. Like many things, it sounds like a great idea until you actually get to the nuts and bolts of implementing the idea, and this blog has changed my view on playoffs dramatically over the years I’ve been reading.

    You might say that the NCAA has no trouble getting fans to March Madness sites. But that’s apples and oranges. In men’s hoops, each site hosts multiple games, with as many as eight teams playing at a first-round site in the first round (hurr durr “second round”, sorry, NCAA naming police). That means they can sell an arena to four fan bases for a morning session and four fan bases for an evening session. I went to Charlotte for the first round a few years ago when Fox got us into the Tournament. We were the night game. After the North Carolina game wrapped up, the UNC fans were leaving and selling their stubs to UGA and Washington fans so we could move to the lower bowl (and naturally, we moved down anyway without tickets). Point being, A) the football sites are going to be much bigger than the basketball sites and, B) you’re only dealing with two fanbases as opposed to four or eight. Teams can progress through as many as three cities if they go all the way, but by the time you reach a Final Four, so many of the tickets are corporate or locals that it doesn’t matter. That’s what’s going to happen to the national championship game.

  6. sUGArdaddy

    I’m telling you, as the Senator says, the guys running this thing aren’t smart enough to figure it out. I go to every game, but it’ll push me to do the playoffs.

    I’d of course go, but what if we make it 2 years straight? I’m probably bowing out of the semis then. Or will this hurt conference championship attendance even more. Think of FSU. If you were an FSU fan, why would you travel to Charlotte to see a game you most certainly will win when you’ve got 2 more big trips to go?

    It frustrates me. It’s not that hard to fix.

    • stoopnagle

      THIS! I don’t think this will impact the SECCG because I think it’s a de facto play-in game. The playoffs will start with the SECCG, PAC12CG, and possible B1GCG. I think losers will go to contract bowls b/c I think the committee will look at it and say: team A just beat team B on a neutral site, so how can we justify making A potentially play B again while leaving out Team C, D or E?

      I’ll be honest: I’ll be surprised if a SECCG loser ever gets in the playoff. I won’t be surprised of #2 SEC team from SECCG loser’s division gets in. Especially if they ducked the SEC Champ in the regular season.

      All of that said, if I were FSU fan, I’d not bothered with Charlotte at all. I would have moved mountains to get to Pasadena.

  7. Scorpio Jones, III

    “It’s the first step down the road to the corporatization of college football attendance.”

    Jeez, Boss…the FIRST STEP? How bout the thirty-third? And none of us is gonna like what our kids (the ones we forgot to warn about obsession with things you can’t control) have to deal with to be college football fans.

    I gotta get me one a them 50-inchers.

  8. Macallanlover

    I don’t feel empty seats will be an issue at all, there will be overwhelming demand from supporters and locals. I predict tickets will be very pricey on Stub Hub whether there are four, or eight, teams involved. Most every program involved in the playoffs have graduated thousands of alums for decades that support the teams and will be happy to travel when the opportunity presents itself. Will it be beyond the reach of some fans? Of course, but arrangements can be made and there are many more than 20,000 fans willing to travel twice in a short period. It isn’t like making one extra trip above the current bowls will be a major hardship for most. Delta is ready when you are.

  9. Macallanlover

    Also, with eight, if we are fortunate to advance to this dream scenario, the opening round of games should definitely be hosted by the Top 4 rated teams. In that case, the visiting team would get the usual 5-8K tickets that all visiting teams get with season ticket holders having their usual seats.

  10. stoopnagle

    I didn’t read comments, but I don’t think this will be a problem for UGA. If the Dawgs make the playoff and fans are asked to commit to buy tickets to NOLA and Dallas at the same time, I know I’m doing it. I’m pretty sure most of the folks I know (who are, admittedly, much better off financially than I, will too). Georgia will sell their allotments easy.

    Will the potential of a school’s fanbase to fill out two games in disparate locales influence the committee’s decision on which teams are “top 4″? Because that doesn’t seem like settling it on the field to me.

  11. uglydawg

    I nominate the phrase “Oh, it’s gonna suck” to be a reference to any and all adopted propositions to determine a National Champion in football.

    Here’s another whole can of worms. Suppose the SEC gets the extra bid (and has two teams in it) for two years in a row. Do you believe there’s anyway on Earth that , regardless of how good they are, the runner up SEC team gets in for the third year? No. (If it’s UGA, you can even move the scenario up to year two). The rest of the country will bitch and moan. And so will we if a Big Integer team fills out the #4 slot more than one year in a row. Oh, it’s gonna suck….there’s going to be several teams and conferences pissed off every year because they didn’t get their shot, and probably rightfully so. It’s gonna suck, suck suck.
    But think of the money to be made from TV…that’s what’s really driving this.

    Since we can’t quit arguing about it anyway, why not just not have a NC game and let people fight it out amongst themselves. We Irish folk would love a system like that….Remember? AP champs. UPchamps, USA Today Champs, etc. It was kind of fun.

  12. PTC DAWG

    As a UGA fan, I hope my team and its fans have to deal with this “problem” and soon.

  13. Semifinals should have been played at the home stadium of the higher seed.

    Rewards regular season more and solves a lot of the travel problems.

    Plus, it sets the table better for when we go to an 8 team playoff.