There are few experiences in the sports world, like a packed rivalry college football game. The atmosphere is unique and can cause tickets to be expensive.
College football tickets are more expensive because the premier programs in the country compete at a high level resulting in limited ticket availability and a significant student body ticket demand. These universities also have a limited number of big games per year and must meet revenue targets.
College football tickets are expensive because their games are usually sold out. The demand for these tickets is high, so they will be priced higher than other sports events. Based on ticket price data and our personal experience, we will explain this in more detail below.
Why Are College Football Tickets So Expensive?
College football is a sport that has a lot of tradition with dedicated fan bases, massive student bodies, and only a limited number of seats available. This also includes alumni, local fans in the area, away team fans, etc.
This creates excessive demand for tickets, especially the bigger games between high-profile teams, which drives up the prices. But this is not the only reason.
Many factors contribute to the expensive cost of college football tickets. Below are the most notable reasons college football tickets can be expensive.
Limited Ticket Availability
College football stadiums are generally on the larger side to accommodate more people, but they are still limited in ticket availability. This leads to higher prices compared to NFL tickets, where the stadiums are smaller.
The larger stadium doesn’t impact pricing because student tickets are cheap, so a large portion of the stadium is not factored into this pricing. This results in limited ticket availability, especially for popular teams.
The games also sell out fast because of students, releases to alumni, and season ticket holders. When this happens, tickets are only available on the secondary market where sellers jack up the prices.
Large Student Body Ticket Demand
College football is a huge part of American culture. It is also a major source of revenue for universities. The problem with this is that the student body at every college football team occupies a big portion of the stadium, and this causes prices to increase.
When many seats are occupied for cheap, the university must sell other tickets to make up for this revenue drop. This is why ticket prices are so high.
Limited Number Of High-Profile Games Per Year
College football tickets are also so expensive because each team has only a few high-profile home games per year. Every fan wants to go when a big game happens, which results in insane pricing on the secondary market.
Required To Meet & Exceed Revenue Targets
Another reason is that schools want to make money off their football programs, and they need the money to fund other programs on campus, such as academics or athletics.
Football is the most profitable and lucrative sport for many schools, and ticket sales are a big driver for revenue. Some of the top programs, like Ohio State and Texas A&M, make over $40 million per year from football tickets.
On average, FBS football programs make roughly $20 million per year. Bigger conferences equal bigger paydays, with the Big Ten and SEC leading the way where teams make an average of $35 million per year in revenue.
How Much Do College Football Tickets Cost?
The average cost for college football tickets can range from $20 to $1,000, depending on where the game is and how important it may be.
For example, tickets to watch a pair of ranked SEC teams will sell for much more than a low-level game between lesser-known schools without national media coverage. This varies widely based on the school.
We have created a table below with the average ticket price for the top schools in 2022. This ticket price is based on all home games hosted by this university.
|College Team||Average Ticket Price|
|Ohio State Buckeyes||$403|
|Notre Dame Fighting Irish||$389|
|Alabama Crimson Tide||$325|
|Texas A&M Aggies||$271|
|Penn State Nittany Lions||$236|
We keep mentioning this because it’s essential, but all of these teams play in a major conference. College football tickets to non-power five football games will be much cheaper, and tickets will be easier to find.
The power five conferences include the SEC, Big Ten, Big 12, ACC, and PAC-12. The average ticket price for each conference is listed below.
|Power 5 Conference||Average Ticket Price|
Are College Football Tickets More Expensive Than NFL Tickets?
College football tickets are typically more expensive than NFL tickets at the high levels in the college game. The highest average NFL ticket price would rank outside the top 30 when compared to the most expensive college football tickets.
Below is a detailed chart with the highest-priced tickets in the NFL. It also includes the NFL average ticket price of $107.50 to confirm that college football tickets are, in fact, more expensive.
|NFL Team||Average Ticket Price|
|Las Vegas Raiders||$153.47|
|San Francisco 49ers||$139.71|
|New England Patriots||$131.45|
|Green Bay Packers||$128.93|
|New York Giants||$115.31|
Do Students Get Free College Football Tickets?
The college football industry has been lucrative for decades, and it continues to grow in popularity. This results in expensive tickets, but does that mean that students don’t get to enjoy them as well?
There are some schools that offer free football tickets to students, but many schools do not provide free tickets.
Some universities have a program where students can purchase tickets at a discounted price. Some schools even allow students to purchase season tickets for the entire season and receive a discounted rate.
It all depends on the school and the student’s situation. For example, Michigan charged students $27 per game based on the 2022-2023 schedule, but they only can seat 15,000 in their student section with an enrollment close to 45,000.
However, $27 is significantly lower than the $285 average ticket price we saw for Michigan. Students are given much easier access to games because they are known to be rowdy, and they bring energy and noise to make it a difficult place to play for the road team.
- College football tickets are expensive because the top programs have limited ticket availability, a large student body ticket demand, limited big games per year, and high revenue targets to meet.
- The average college football ticket can start as low as $20 for lesser-known programs and up to $1,000 for big SEC games.
- The NFL average ticket cost is $107.50, while power five college football conference tickets all cost over $147 on average.