Ticket prices for Arkansas-Alabama fall sharply
Posted: September 13, 2012 at 3:01 p.m.
FAYETTEVILLE In late July, tickets for Arkansas' anticipated football game against Alabama ranged from $155 to $2,200 per ticket on the popular ticket exchange website StubHub.com.
But following one of the most unlikely losses in school history - 34-31 to Louisiana-Monroe - last Saturday, ticket prices and fan enthusiasm for the game have dropped dramatically.
Arkansas, previously ranked No. 8, fell out of the Associated Press Top 25 poll - the second-largest one-week fall ever. Alabama is ranked No. 1 in the poll.
Two days before the game, upper-level tickets can be purchased for $35 on StubHub. Tickets in the same level sold for more than $160 one day prior to the loss to ULM. The most expensive ticket listed on StubHub is now $290.
After months of fans pleading for tickets to the game on popular ticket exchange message boards such as Hogville.net and HawgsIllustrated.com, several have been posted since the ULM loss, all for the $55 face value.
Cliff, a Razorbacks fan from Nebraska, sold his upper-level tickets for $200 apiece prior to last weekend's loss. Cliff asked his last name not be used for this story.
"I do feel very bad for the guy who bought my inflated tickets now that the game has lost its luster," he said. "I can't attend all games as an out-of-towner, so I sold these and deliberately sold them for a little less than they were going for on StubHub; the going rate was $238 at the time for my section."
Cliff said one of the reasons to sell his tickets at an inflated rate was to cover a portion of his $700-plus donation to the Razorback Foundation, the university's private fundraising entity for athletics. Season ticket priority is based upon donations to the foundation.
As part of a seating equity plan put into place prior to last season, ticket holders must also pay a $125 fee per seat to maintain their same location in the stadium from the year before. To keep the same seats for a pair of tickets in Fayetteville, fans were charged $850 for bleacher seats before donations to the foundation.
The University of Arkansas announced earlier this summer it had sold a record number of season tickets for its games in Fayetteville. In addition to the Razorbacks' No. 10 preseason ranking, on-campus games against Alabama and LSU - the participants in last season's national championship game - drove the demand.
During Alabama's last trip to Fayetteville, a record 76,808 fans attended the game two years ago. LSU had played in Little Rock in its last nine trips to Arkansas, routinely selling out War Memorial Stadium.
Arkansas' game against Alabama was selected as the "SEC on CBS" game of the week in July. The popular ESPN pregame show "College Gameday" was scheduled to originate from Fayetteville prior to the Razorbacks' loss last weekend.
"I don't think it was wrong to try to get a fair going rate since I made a respectable foundation donation and had to pay for the season tickets," Cliff said. "But I fully expected the buyer would be seeing two top 10 teams playing."
Shane Robertson, a fan in Tulsa, Okla., said he bought tickets to the game on StubHub in late August. The tickets were located between the 5- and 10-yard lines. The price was $380 apiece.
"There were a lot of other things we could have done with that money and a lot of other things we could have bought," Robertson said. "We kind of have a certain amount we can spend and we were thinking we could use the money a little later down the road for tickets to a bowl game or the SEC championship, and then we just blew it all on this game. It could all be worth it, but I doubt it."
Robertson said he felt he had to pull the trigger on buying tickets when he did because prices at the time were sky-rocketing.
"There was about a two-week span where people were paying more than $500 for a ticket," Robertson said. "It was being hyped up so much. If you could afford it, there was a time where people were paying."
Local hotels have also noticed the effects of the Razorbacks' defeat. The Marriott TownPlace Suites in Bentonville and Springdale both reported several cancellations since Arkansas' loss to ULM. June Kraft, general manager of the Springdale location, said at least 10 rooms were canceled prior to the hotel's 72-hour cancellation cutoff, though those rooms have since been filled.
Fayetteville hotels have more stringent cancellation policies. At the Courtyard by Marriott hotel in Fayetteville, occupants are required to cancel their rooms two weeks in advance for football weekends.
"Even though the team has suffered some setbacks the last week, our occupancy has remained solid," said hotel manager Jeff Arthur.
"Most of our guests are regulars. We do a lot with the university, we have people from CBS Sports here, so there are a lot of people who will be here regardless. We've had very few calls for cancellations."
Those who haven't backed out are hopeful they've invested in watching Arkansas pull off its first win over a No. 1 ranked team in Fayetteville since beating Texas in 1981.
"I think we can still rally," Robertson said. "Every single person I know is still going. I think we all have this inkling of hope or something.
"Plus we've already paid for everything."