A Bowled Over Economy

Kevin TrahanAnalyst IDecember 30, 2008

As the stock market and economy hit all-time lows it seems nothing is exempt—even college football.

Bowl game ticket sales are down sharply from previous years, thanks to the recession, and bowl games and schools are feeling the hit.

One of the hardest-hit schools is Wisconsin. The Badgers sold only 3,000 of their alloted 12,000 tickets. This is down significantly from last year, when the Badgers sold 9,500 of their alloted 11,000 tickets for the Outback Bowl. and down even more so from the 2007 Capital One Bowl, when they exceeded their allotment with 13,500 tickets.

Smaller bowls have taken the greatest hit so far. The Music City Bowl is desperate for buyers after coming up 15,000 tickets short—even after inviting hometown Vanderbilt and selling tickets for $15 a piece.

The Humanitarian Bowl in Boise, Idaho is really struggling as well. Neither Maryland nor Nevada will release the number of tickets they have sold, but bowl officials estimate that only 25,000 people will descend on Boise, most of them locals.

Although the smaller bowls have taken the biggest hit, the larger bowls aren't doing very well either. Ohio State announced that it would make its Fiesta Bowl tickets public in a desparate effort to get rid of as many as possible. Orange Bowl ticket sales are down too, as Virginia Tech has a 50 percent drop in ticket sales from last year.

Even the teams doing "well" aren't doing so well in reality. One of the schools doing the best is Iowa. The Hawkeyes have sold about 13,000 tickets so far, exceeding their allotment by 2,000. This is more than their opponent, South Carolina, and would be considered good by most teams—but that is still down 7,000 tickets from the Hawkeyes' last Outback Bowl appearance in 2006.

Still, it has exceeded the expectations and results of most other bowl teams.

Unlike many people had hoped, even college football isn't invincible. It too has been hurt by our worsening economy. And so it seems that sadly the great game of college football has been bowled over by our economy.