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Bundling Student Tickets And Offering Options: What Penn State Can Learn

The three-sport season ticketholder is a rare breed at Penn State.

Actually being interested in three different Penn State teams? Traveling to East Campus more than seven times a football season and for THON? Are there even enough white clothes in the world?

What’s more, it’d cost students $410 to buy season tickets to watch the Nittany Lions on the gridiron, hardwood, and ice rink. Although students with this much commitment to Penn State Athletics are few and far between, Penn State doesn’t do much to embody the #OneTeam mantra and encourage students to break down student section silos.

Other universities drive students to attend different sporting events and offset costs of football by bundling their tickets. UCLA, Washington, and Illinois all sell their football and basketball tickets together for less than $150 each. For $149, Texas offers the Big Ticket (everything’s bigger in Texas), which is good for admission to any home sporting event. Oklahoma State charges $250 for an all-sports pass.

The most expensive bundle is at Indiana, where students pay $390 for access to 23 football and basketball games. Football tickets by themselves cost only $70, but the only way to purchase basketball tickets is to buy the football tickets along with them.

Indiana effectively uses its main sport (basketball) to get students invested in its subpar football team. I’m not sure whether I love or hate the logic of this system, but $320 for basketball season tickets is outrageous, even by Big Ten standards.

In theory, modeling a bundled offer after Indiana’s wouldn’t be a bad idea for Penn State to consider; attendance at basketball games rarely approaches 10,000, even though the Bryce Jordan Center holds more than 15,000 fans. The only issue: Beaver Stadium’s student section is about 5,000 fans larger than the BJC as a whole.

Texas A&M, the most profitable athletic program in the country, is right behind Indiana with the 12th Man Pass, which costs $325. The Aggies are consistently competitive in the SEC in football, basketball, and baseball, so this price, though steep, seems a bit more out of necessity and less out of craftiness than what Indiana offers.

Minnesota has perhaps the most interesting set-up and one that could translate well to Penn State, a near mirror image of a Big Ten school with three popular sports. Students at the University of Minnesota have nine options for attending football, basketball, and hockey games.

The Gold Package is worth $260 and gets you season tickets to football, basketball, and hockey. The cost of the Gold Package is only $28 more than Penn State’s football-only price and $150 less than what you’d have to pay for season tickets to all three sports at Penn State. However, Minnesota’s hockey tickets are only for one of the two games each series while at Penn State, a season ticket gets you the whole weekend slate.

If you only *like* Minnesota athletics but aren’t necessarily ready to love them to the point that you become a three-sport season ticketholder, you can mix and match so you get (and pay for) specifically what you want. Two-sport packages are priced at $175, while a single-sport package costs $99.

Bulk-purchasing the three sports together, however, saves you $37, incentivizing students to support Gopher teams throughout the year.

Although Minnesota takes offering students options to the extreme, flexible packages are available throughout college football. Ohio State offers a great value by allowing students to purchase tickets to only Big Ten home games. With each game on the schedule equally priced at $36, this package is $72 cheaper than the full set of games. Better yet, you don’t have to pay to watch JK Dobbins steamroll Tulane.

Ohio State keeps it simple and offers a cost-effective-ish alternative to its season tickets, which are the second most expensive in college football. Other universities do the opposite and cut out the most expensive games to keep package prices down and charge more for single game tickets.

At Iowa, instead of paying $150 for all seven home games, students have the option of paying only $125 to attend every game, except against rival Nebraska. For students who don’t want to pay the full $325 for an all-sports pass, Texas A&M offers two different four-game packages priced at $175 each. Auburn has four packages available: a full seven-game slate for $160, two different six-game slates for $135, or the three non-conference games for $60.

But having more options isn’t always better. Sometimes, it’s like putting lipstick on a pig.

Ohio State goads students to pay an extra $20 to sit in their choice of not one but two (!!) official Block O student cheering sections…not that other giant student section in the south end zone that’s full of plebeian amateurs and first-timers asking if Urban Meyer is a type of flask. This is THE Block O we’re talking about, after all. It isn’t clear how many seats are in the Block O (‘s), but at $20 per student, it means simply more money for Ohio State Athletics, which raked in $167 million in revenue in 2016.

Imagine paying an extra $20 to sit in the S-Zone or to do Nittanyville (or a second one to coax even more die-hard fans to further dish out cash). If anything, take solace that although Penn State’s student tickets are expensive, everyone pays once and still has essentially the same chances of sitting in the front row to hang a banner over the field’s wall.

***

This week, we’re analyzing how student ticket sales work throughout college football. We already broke down the most expensive student football tickets and looked at universities that offer fee-funded athletic tickets and how “free” doesn’t always translate to a bang for your buck. Check in tomorrow for a look at some of the unique features offered by athletic departments around the nation.

About the Author

Anthony Colucci

Anthony Colucci is Onward State’s Social Media Manager, a preferred walk-on honors student, and a junior majoring in psychology and public relations. Despite being from the make-believe land of Central Jersey, he was never a Rutgers fan. If you ever want to know how good Saquon Barkley's ball security is, ask Anthony what happened when he tried to force a fumble at the Mifflin Streak. Feel free to follow @_anthonycolucci on Twitter and email him at [email protected] to hear the story or if you’re bored and want to chat.

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