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.