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Who Sold Out — School Sales of Bowl Tickets


According to Cornhusker fans, Nebraska has one of the most loyal and best traveling fan bases.  Fans of Big Red might be surprised to find out that for each of the last three years Vanderbilt, a school with fewer than 12,000 students and less football tradition, has sold at least three times as many bowl tickets as Nebraska.

Meanwhile, in The Buckeye State, the top bowl game draw was not The Best Damn Band in the Land or The team that had won 24 of 25, but a three-loss team bowl ticket salesfrom the MAC returning to the place it had played just three weeks earlier.   And among teams travelling to Florida, Louisville sold more tickets than any other team, including South Carolina, Iowa, Clemson, Ohio State, LSU, Nebraska, Georgia and Wisconsin.  An accomplishment that may be even more impressive is that the Naval Academy sold out its bowl allotment for the 10th consecutive time.  This year, Navy played in the Armed Forces Bowl in land-locked Fort Worth, Texas and sold out a 10,000 ticket allotment.

We mention some of these success stories that may seem unlikely, because in the near future, articles will start appearing that break down whether or not a particular school made a profit on its bowl game trip.   The articles will question the economics of bowl games, and whether or not playing in a bowl game makes sense for schools.   The articles will cite unsold tickets as the primary reason that schools lose money on bowl games.  There will be quotes from an athletic director from a school that fared poorly selling tickets, and blame directed at the bowl system for making the schools buy too many tickets.  Our purpose isn’t to belittle Ohio State, but to take a look and try to understand how 10-3 Bowling Green was able to sell more tickets to the Little Caesar’s Pizza Bowl than 12-1 Ohio State did to the Orange Bowl. It might be because it is an easy drive from Wood County to Detroit, but I think there is more to it than that.  Bowling Green does something that no other school does, and that may have helped the Falcons bowl ticket sales take off.  Keep in mind that there may also be specific reasons that a school does not sell out a ticket allotment by choice, such as only making tickets available to donors of a certain level.

There are other bright spots.   When you review the table below, you’ll see the notice by how much Louisville was able to outsell schools like Wisconsin, Nebraska and Georgia that also traveled to Florida.  That may seem like a surprise because it is a smaller school, from what’s perceived as a lesser conference,and also has a long drive, but selling more tickets was in the Cards this year.  It may be due to a few things that Louisville does that other schools don’t, that might make a fan want to buy tickets from the school, rather than other sources.  In the next few months, we’ll be researching and sharing those things with you.

Going forward, the bowls listened to athletic directors and conference officials, and ticket allotments will be dropping at most bowl games next year.  For example, games that are in the College Football Playoff will have ticket allotments of 12,500 per school, down from at least 17,500.  Several other bowls are seeing allotments drop to what seems to be an average of about 6,000 tickets per school.   In the next few months, we’ll be taking a closer look at ticket allotments, and historical sales.  We’ll share the best practices from several schools and we’ll be talking to secondary market sellers, athletic department officials, and bowl executives to let you know what they think will happen in the years to come.

Your comments, questions, and thoughts are always welcome and encouraged.    If you don’t already, like us on Facebook, and be the first to get our updates.  You can contact me directly here.

Team Game Allotment Sold
Auburn BCS  20,200 20,200
Florida State BCS 20,200 20,200
Michigan State  BCS Rose Bowl 24,000 24,000
Stanford BCS Rose Bowl 24,000 24,000
Ohio State BCS Orange Bowl 17,500 7,000
Clemson BCS Orange Bowl 17,500 8,750
UCF BCS Fiesta 17,500 7,500
Baylor BCS Fiesta 17,500 12,000
Alabama BCS Sugar 17,500 19,500
Oklahoma BCS Sugar 17,500
Oregon Alamo Bowl 9,500 9,500
Texas Alamo Bowl 9,500 9,500
Rutgers Pinstripe Bowl 10,440 10,440
Notre Dame Pinstripe Bowl 10,440 10,440
Bowling Green Pizza Bowl 10,000 10,000
Missouri Cotton 13,500 13,500
Oklahoma State Cotton 13,500 13,500
Ole Miss Music City 12,000 13,438
Mississippi State Liberty 12,000 16,560
Vanderbilt BB&T Compass 10,000 13,000
Louisville Russell Athletic 12,500 11,500
North Carolina Belk 12,500 7,000
Fresno State Royal Purple Las Vegas 11,000 8,900
South Carolina Capital One 12,500 11,000
Wisconsin Capital One 12,500 3,800
LSU Outback 12,000 6,000
Iowa Outback 11,500 10,000
Georgia Gator 15,000 7,500
Nebraska Gator 12,500 2,759
Kansas State BW-3 11,000 6,000
Michigan BW-3 11,000 5,600
Minnesota Texas 12,000 3,375
Utah State Poinsettia Bowl 3,000 1,989
Northern Illinois Poinsettia Bowl 3,000 1,200
Colorado State New Mexico Bowl 5,105
San Diego State Famous Idaho Potato 8,000 2,500
Numbers gathered from several sources, and will be updated or confirmed
with additional bowl games added in a future post.


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