“It’s craziness, for sure,” said Jack Slingland, director of client relations for TickPick.
He said the average list price for a ticket to the championship game on TickPick’s resale marketplace was a whopping $5,141 as of Tuesday afternoon -- up 22 percent since the end of the Rose Bowl and up 205 percent compared with the same point before last season’s national championship game in Tampa.
Slingland said the main factors driving prices to the highest level in the four-year history of the College Football Playoff are Georgia’s long drought since its last national championship in the 1980 season and next Monday’s game being played in Atlanta, about 70 miles from the UGA campus and about 200 miles from the Alabama campus.
“When you eliminate the need for flights and hotels for a large chunk of fans,” Slingland said, “you can end up with these sort of ticket prices.”
Vince Thompson, CEO and founder of Atlanta-based sports marketing firm Melt, accurately predicted several weeks ago that ticket prices would rise to current levels if Georgia won the Rose Bowl.
“It would be the perfect storm of emotion and proximity,” Thompson said at the time. “I would say it … would rank up as one of the most expensive tickets of all time in Atlanta.”
Secondary-market prices fluctuate by the minute as the balance plays out between buyers and sellers, and Slingland said it’s hard to predict how the market will move between now and kickoff.
“Right now, there isn’t anything I’m seeing that would indicate it’s going to come down drastically,” Slingland said. “It looks like it’s going to level out and stick right around here with a get-in price slightly above $2,000. But we’ll know a lot more after we get past the 24-48 hour mark of the matchup being set and things settle down a bit.”
Championship-game ticket prices began to rise immediately after Georgia earned a playoff berth by winning the SEC title game Dec. 2, with the average list price on TickPick climbing 58 percent over the following 10 days.
The average purchase price is less than the average asking price at this point because of more demand for the (relatively) less expensive seats. But Vivid Seats said the average amount paid for tickets sold on its site from the end of the Rose Bowl through early Tuesday afternoon was $3,037, up 37 percent from an average of $2,218 for tickets that changed hands previously.
Not all fans at the championship game will have to pay the inflated secondary-market prices, of course.
Each of the two participating schools received 20,000 tickets, representing a combined 57 percent of the seating inventory, according to College Football Playoff executive director Bill Hancock. The schools sold most of their allotments to donors and season-ticket holders at face price, which ranges from $375 to $875.
In addition, Hancock said 24 percent of the seats were sold to the public through a combination of official hospitality packages, a random ticket drawing and an “RSVP” program in which fans bought the right to purchase tickets if their team reached the game. Another 12 percent of the tickets went to CFP “partners and constituents,” including ESPN, corporate sponsors and the local host committee, Hancock said. The final 7 percent went to Mercedes-Benz Stadium suite holders and holders of the Falcons’ most expensive personal seat licenses, he said.
But thousands of tickets have found their way to the secondary market for resale, and prices there are driven by supply and demand.