Dynamic Pricing of Tickets Comes to College Football: Is it Good or Bad News?

Michael FelderNational CFB Lead WriterJuly 1, 2013

ANN ARBOR, MI - SEPTEMBER 15: A wide view of the Michigan Stadium 'Big House' before the Big Ten college game between the University of Michigan Wolverines and the University of Massachusetts Minutemen on September 15, 2012 in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  (Photo by Dave Reginek/Getty Images)
Dave Reginek/Getty Images

Will dynamic ticketing practices eventually shut out the average college football fan?

In theory, yes, but in practice, not much at all.

Thursday, the University of Michigan announced it would become the latest school to make such a move, las reported by ESPN. Dynamic ticketing is the process through which schools, working with companies such as QCue or Digonex, adjust ticket prices based upon the market value.

As ESPN points out, the least desirable games, against Central Michigan and Akron, do not move much in price, going from $65 for a face-value season ticket to $70 for a single-game ticket through dynamic ticketing. However, the same $65 seat for the Notre Dame game could move to $195, a 300 percent increase.

The practice itself is not new. Concerts, pro sports and secondary-market ticket vendors have been letting the demand dictate price for quite some time.

For college football fans, in theory, yes, this will price people out of the market for the big games. "In theory" being noted because, if you've ever tried to get tickets to a big-time game as a non-season-ticket holder or big-time donor, you know the market has already priced you out.

Schools sell out these games quickly and after market value climbs astronomically, even for the worst seats in the building. Premium cost being placed on premium games is nothing new on the sports landscape.

The difference now will be the school receiving that added income, not the secondary-ticket vendor or the scalpers.

As for the "no" answer, it speaks to the same point. The college football fans that you see filling stadiums like the Big House are not random folks who've purchased one-game tickets. They are alums and donors. They are season-ticket holders who donate their money to get access to the season tickets and make sure they are there for the team's big moments.

Those fans are not hit by the shift to dynamic ticketing.

So, while Joe Fan appears to be being forced out of the affordable ticket game, the truth is that is a pool that he has not been allowed to swim in for quite some time. There is a lot of talk about money controlling college football from an institutional standpoint. Well, the same holds true from the fan side.

Fans have long had to pay to see their team play; not just through purchasing season tickets, but through heavy donations to get the opportunity to buy season tickets, extra tickets and bowl tickets. If you are not a Michigan donor and/or alum, odds are you were not getting into the Notre Dame or Ohio State games for the $65 to begin with.

Dynamic ticketing policies won't change that. The biggest donors and most faithful season-ticket holders continue to rank above all others in the hierarchy. Fans hoping for one-off tickets will continue to see lesser competition, hope a donor friend cannot go, or be prepared to part with an ample sum of money to get in the building.