In a League of Its Own: the SEC Championship Game

Last Updated on April 18, 2011

Is the SEC Championship Game the most elite of the conference championship games in college football?  It is if you weigh the economic impact, secondary market ticket prices and overall ticket demand.  Oh, and in recent years, it almost always produces a contender for the national title.

Just how much more succesful is this game than the other conference championship games?  Before I spoil the ending any more than I already have, let’s take a look at the championship games in the other AQ conferences:


For the past five years, the ACC contenders have played before some disappointing crowds.  In three of those five years, less than 60,000 attended the game, which was played in Jacksonville in 2005, 2006 and 2007 and in Tampa in 2008 and 2009.  There were no sellouts during those years and the average ticket price was just $94.

Charlotte insists it can do better, however.  So far, they are making their case.  As of yesterday, 70,000 of the 73,000 seats for this weekend’s ACC title game were sold with a sellout expected to happen today.  Charlotte is hoping for a $15-20 million total economic impact on the city.

Big 12

Fairing better than the ACC title game, the Big 12 title game does see sellouts with crowds of over 70,000.  However, it is trumped by the annual Texas – Oklahoma game every year.  Dallas estimates that game has an economic impact of $20 million.  Last year, the CEO of the Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau seemed skeptical that the Big 12 Championship Game could equal the economic impact of the State Fair game.  The average ticket price for that game on the secondary market ended up being $191.


Then there’s the SEC Championship Game.  According to StubHub, the SEC title game is the highest grossing college football game of the year (followed by the State Fair game).  The game has been played in Atlanta since 1994 and only failed to sellout in 1995.  Currently, there is a waitlist each and every year with 20,000+ names vying for a ticket.  Unfortunately, only around 200 tickets become available each year, since those with tickets in previous years are allowed the right to renew.  With each person on the waiting list buying two tickets, only around 100 people a year make it from the waitlist to the stands without having to go to the secondary market. 

That’s where this game truly sets itself apart.  The average ticket price to the SEC Championship Game last year was $583!  This year, a suite at the game sold for $22,500 on eBay.  On top of all that, the game has an economic impact upwards of $30 million in Atlanta. 

Next year, the PAC-10 and Big Ten will roll out championship games of their own, hoping to rival the SEC.  They both certainly have better brand power in college football than the ACC and Big 12.  If they have any sense, they’ll be studying the SEC model, because it runs like a well-oiled machine in Atlanta the first weekend of every December.  I hope they’re watching; I know I will be. 

This article offers the personal observations of Kristi Dosh, and does not represent the views of her law firm or its clients. Any information contained herein does not constitute legal advice. Consult your own attorney for legal advice on these matters.

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