SEC Student Ticket Prices and Availability

Student Section at The Swamp

This post was originally published in May 2011. Any updates since have been for SEO purposes only. However, we still write regularly about athletic department finances.

Last week I looked at student ticket prices in the Big Ten for football and basketball. Today we’re going to look at the SEC and take it a step further (I’ll update the Big Ten piece with this extended data soon) by looking at the number of student tickets available at each university and what percentage of the stadium’s total capacity is reserved for students.

First, let’s look at football:

SchoolStudent FeesFootball Student Season Ticket # of ticketsStadium Capacity% of total capacity
Auburn$5,261,604.00$116 for full season, $58 for mini season16,00087,45118.3%
Mississippi State$4,000,000.00$3511,00055,08220.0%
South Carolina$2,146,293.00$010,00080,25012.5%

You’ll note that Alabama’s data is incomplete. Unfortunately, calls to their athletic department for the last couple of weeks have not been returned. Due to the incredibly difficult situation in Tuscaloosa following last week’s tornado damage, I’ve decided to post this story without waiting for Alabama’s response. If anyone from Alabama reads this and can provide the information, I’d be happy to update the chart.

Also, these are 2010 prices. Florida has recently increased to $105 for 2011.

If you read the piece on Big Ten student ticket prices, you’ll remember that Northwestern was the only school who did not charge for football tickets. We have two in the SEC: Vanderbilt and South Carolina.

What stood out to me first was how few student tickets are available at Kentucky, Mississippi and Vanderbilt. 

The former two are at or below half of the average number of student tickets available at schools in the SEC, while Vanderbilt is just above the half-way mark. If you take a look at the percent of total stadium capacity reserved for students, Vanderbilt is above the average while Kentucky and Mississippi fall far below the average.

Meanwhile, six SEC schools who were in the top 10 in attendance in the NCAA last year all offered far more student tickets than the three mentioned above. Alabama (4), Georgia (7), LSU (8), Florida (9) and Auburn (10) all offered above the average in term of percent of total capacity, and Tennessee (6) was just below the average. All six schools offered above the average in terms of number of student tickets.

I’m impressed that schools like these six would offer so many student tickets when I’m quite sure they could all make more money by offering more of those tickets to the general public. None of these schools have attendance problems and are generally sold out. There’s no doubt in my mind they would still sell out even if the student population were more limited in their access. I’ve often heard students complain that more tickets aren’t offered to students, but I’m surprised to find just how many are offered when the school has the opportunity to make more money if they were to sell them to the general public.

If you missed the Big Ten piece, however, let me point out that Michigan has no limit for student tickets, but allows all those who want one to purchase. No school in the SEC operates in this manner.

One last note on the SEC versus the Big Ten before we move on to basketball: which is more expensive? Turns out the Big Ten’s average of $145 per student football ticket is more than twice the SEC’s $56 average.

Now on to basketball:

SchoolStudent FeesBasketball Student Season Ticket# of ticketsArena capcity% of total capacity
Mississippi State$4,000,000.00$02,50010,50023.8%
South Carolina$2,146,293.00$03,00018,00016.7%

As you can see, a larger percentage of available seats are offered for basketball as compared to football and quite a few schools offer basketball season tickets for free.

I’ll leave you with a some questions. Why do Kentucky and Mississippi reserve so few seats for students? How do you feel about the percentage of stadiums and arenas that are reserved for students? Is it enough?

Thanks to my research assistant Spencer Anderson for his research on this piece!

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  • Dave
    May 2, 2011

    Florida’s student tickets went up to $105 starting this coming season.

  • Greg Anderson
    May 4, 2011

    Another data item that would be interesting to see is the % of student tickets compared to each university’s student body size.

    While Vanderbilt’s 6,000 football tickets looks small it is 49.6% of their 12,093 enrollment.

    University – Enrollment – %
    Arkansas – 21,406 – 44.4%
    Auburn – 25,078 – 63.8%
    Florida – 51,474 – 40.3%
    Georgia – 35,520 – 50.7%
    Kentucky – 26,054 – 17.3%
    LSU – 28,810 – 48.6%
    Mississippi – 19,644 – 28.0%
    Mississippi State – 19,536 – 56.3%
    South Carolina – 28,481 – 35.1%
    Tennessee – 27,107 – 51.6%
    Vanderbilt – 12,093 – 49.6%

    University – Enrollment – %
    Arkansas – 21,406 – 14.0%
    Auburn – 25,078 – 6.0%
    Florida – 51,474 – 4.9%
    Georgia – 35,520 – 9.2%
    Kentucky – 26,054 – 17.3%
    LSU – 28,810 – 5.7%
    Mississippi – 19,644 – 10.2%
    Mississippi State – 19,536 – 12.8%
    South Carolina – 28,481 – 10.5%
    Tennessee – 27,107 – 13.6%
    Vanderbilt – 12,093 – 24.8%

    Based on these percentages, Vandy believes that student involvement at football and basketball games is a very important expierence. It is also interesting that Kentucky allocates the same nuber of tickets for both football and basketball.

    Another factor that would need to be included also is average attendance (including the number of student tickets used). Are all of the full revenue seats filled? I believe that South Carolina reduced the number of student tickets from 12,000 to 10,000 about 6 six years ago.

    Is baseball a revenue generating sport in the SEC? I wonder what the data would look like for baseball tickets across the conference.

    I’m sure this same type of analysis is on the way for other conferences as well.

  • Greg Anderson
    May 4, 2011

    Another thought would be how many seats are allocated to the visiting teams. Living in Tulsa for the past 10 years, I’ve noticed that the SEC tends to provide more tickets to the visiting school than other conferences. This obviously depends on the contracts between the two university’s but I believe there may be some conference by-law on the issue. I’m sure that South Carolina does not trade the same number of tickets with Georgia as it trades with Vanderbilt. Accessability to away games is a very important part of the conference member institution’s donation plans.