When fans turn out the lights on Tempe’s last Fiesta Bowl, hopefully they’ll still have some money left.
The bowl’s Sun Devil Stadium swan song has turned into one of the priciest affairs in its history, with tickets generally running between $300 and $500 each.
"These are AMAZING lower level seats to the Big Game in Tempe Arizona!," the screen on eBay screams. "Section 9 is one of the BEST sections in the stadium — great viewing angles, no afternoon setting sun in your face, easy access into and out of the stadium. You can’t go wrong with these!"
For a cool $1,000 or so, you can’t go wrong. With just seconds to go in the online auction, bidder Flipandship11 bid $951 for the two Fiesta Bowl seats.
That’s $475.50 a piece, about 238 percent more than face value of $200 each. The seats are on the lower level in row 19. Flipandship11 also had to pay $15 to have the tickets shipped. That’s $3 more than the cheapest seat at Tuesday’s Insight Bowl at Chase Field.
"In my 13 years of the bowl, this is the hottest ticket I’ve ever seen, the most demand for it, and that includes three championship games," said Shawn Schoeffler, Fiesta Bowl spokesman.
"The difference is when you have a championship, people know for a year that you have it, so they plan a little bit. And part of it is ‘Well shoot, they have a championship, I can’t get tickets.’ Whereas this year, we have this matchup and there’s so much demand from the two schools, demand locally has gone up. We’ve had more calls and more people trying to get tickets than I can ever remember."
Tickets for the game between Ohio State and Notre Dame universities have face values of $85, $125, $185 and $200.
But a check of eBay and telephone calls to ticket brokers show the cheapest seats are running about $300 in the upper sections and roughly $500 in lower sections.
"Just to show you how hot the ticket it is, we sold standing room only Monday," Schoeffler said. "We opened that up at 8:30 a.m. and we sold about 700 of those. It’s not even with a seat. It’s just to stand on the last row and watch the game. Those sold out in less than an hour."
They were $85 each. On Friday, with 12 minutes left in the auction, the bid for two standing-room-only tickets was $275, or $137.50 a piece. "I’d rather sit on my couch, but that’s just me," Schoeffler said.
Ohio State fans compare this year’s ticket prices to what they paid for a Fiesta Bowl national championship game against Miami in 2003, Schoeffler said.
"It’s a rivalry because schools are so close and they rarely play," he said. "For the two schools, it’s just a big deal."
At Jack’s Ticket Agency in Tempe, Bruce Genzburg agreed the game is in demand, more so than most Fiesta Bowls, he said. Prices start at $375, but tickets for the 2003 championship game started at $500, he said.
"It’s good. Not as good as the championship game," Genzburg said, adding Rose Bowl tickets — where the championship game will be played Jan. 4 — are running $800 and up.
He said part of the reason prices are higher for this year’s Fiesta Bowl game is the face value price has increased since 2003. For the championship game, every seat in Sun Devil Stadium was the same price except for the loge section, Schoeffler said. Tickets cost $150 each and $200 for loge seats.
"That’s just how we do it for the championship game, make all the prices the same," he said.
Of nearly 74,000 tickets, each school gets 15,000 and the rest are spoken for mostly by local hotels and corporate sponsors who get to host big-spending VIP clients. About 98 percent of ticket holders renew them annually, Schoeffler said.
"Some people have had them since 1971 and they renew every year and then we have a waiting list for people who want to get on and when they become available, we call them," he said. "There are a lot of companies. It’s across the board."
At Notre Dame, the high price for tickets is a tad upsetting, said Chuck Lennon, executive director of the university’s alumni association.
"Ninety-nine percent of those people on eBay are not Notre Dame alums who got their tickets through the lottery," he said. "Those are mostly corporation tickets and things like that were sold ahead of time. We certainly understand and are concerned about having our alumni having to go out there and pay those prices, but I guess that’s the marketplace."
Notre Dame assigned 2,500 of its 15,000 tickets to students. Another 500 were given to alumni clubs. The Valley chapter received 300. The rest, even clubs within driving distance of the game, were given no more than 20 each, Lennon said.
The Notre Dame Athletic Department Alumni Association Travel Program received 1,000 tickets for its resort and ticket packages. About 10,000 tickets went into a lottery that nearly 46,000 people applied to get in.
"This is the most we’ve ever had," Lennon said of applicants. "Even with our 1989 National Championship team we didn’t have that many."
Notre Dame beat West Virginia in that Fiesta Bowl 34-21.
Notre Dame fans who contributed to the university last year were eligible for the lottery. For those out of school less than 7 years or more than 50, the minimum contribution was a minimum of $50. For everybody else, it was at least $100.
"Anyone who has contributed to the university in that way or who has season tickets, and there’s about 23,000 people who have season tickets, they automatically received an application," Lennon said.
He said the interest level is so high because of the opponent and the fact that the association had added 3,000 members to its rolls every year since it was last in the Valley for the national championship.
"A lot of people will come out there without game tickets because they know tickets will come on the streets by the scalpers and by the corporation people," Lennon said.