Bull Market in Ticket Sales
Worries about the economy don't seem to effecting University of Georgia ticket sales as demand for new renewable season tickets is up 500% over last season.
In an announcement scheduled for later today, the UGA ticket office will show there is unprecedented demand for season tickets. According to Tim Cearley, the Director of Ticket Operations for the Athletic Association, the cumulative score needed to purchase renewable season tickets for first time donors or current donors looking to add seats went up from 2000 points in 2007 to a whopping 10651 points this season. These point totals reflect the cumulative score of patron's annual gift and base contribution, wherein each dollar given equals one point.
Cearley says "We knew that there would a large demand, but this was surprising." In fact, of the 53,000 season tickets sold, only 800 were not renewed and thus made available to new and current donors. Of those only 698 were in pairs or groups as the other seats were scattered throughout the stadium by themselves. This is a continuation of a trend seen over the last few years as seat turnover has gone down from 1000 tickets in 2006 to 900 in 2007 and now down to 800 this year. With the season's expectations being so high, many new contributors were trying to get tickets and many current donors were trying to add seats. "If someone had asked me whether or not 5000 points would have gotten them seats, I would have probably said yes. I am glad that I didn't speculate." said Cearley.
The Athletic Association will also announce the levels needed for donors to have qualified for single game tickets today. Of probably the greatest concern is that of the Arizona State game, for which a level of 27007 is the cutoff score. Many donors have been waiting for this information before they decided to buy non-refundable air fare to Phoenix, Arizona. For the other away games, the following cumulative scores were necessary to qualify for tickets:
South Carolina - 22,000 points
LSU - 30415 points
Florida Club 42500 points
Florida - 8460 points
Auburn - 25850 points
Kentucky - 8405 points
Closer to home, the single game ticket levels are much more varied. No single game tickets are available for the Georgia Southern contest while all requests for Vanderbilt were filled. The Central Michigan game cutoff is 13752 while for the Georgia Tech game the level is 33252. For those looking to get tickets to Alabama and Tennessee, the SeatExchange.com web site might be the best resource as the cumulative score needed for those games is 100,000 points or more. The single game tickets made available to donors come from the pool of 10,000 tickets reserved for visiting schools. If the school doesn't utilize the full visiting team allotment, then the UGA ticket office will fill donor requests. Since Georgia Southern wanted all of 10000 tickets, there is no single game availability.
Cearley was quick to point out that although tickets to Georgia games are some of the hardest to get in the Southeastern Conference, Georgia ranks at the bottom in ticket costs. "And we do not use tier pricing like other schools do," he said. "All of our tickets for season ticket holders are $40.00, no matter who we are hosting. As for the away tickets, we charge what they charge us."
Tickets will be mailed in the first week in August. Season tickets will be mailed directly from the ticket printing office and single game tickets will be sent from the ticket office. "So for those that qualified for single game tickets as well, they will be receiving two packets" Cearley said.
When asked as to how the over 92,000 seats break down into categories, Cearley had some surprising answers. "Our season ticket holders account for 53,000 seats. Visiting teams get 10,000 seats. Students are allotted 18,000 seats and 4000 go to faculty and staff. Only 1000 go to sponsors and the rest are given over to recruits and the player's families. Players are allowed four tickets per game." And how many are available to general public to walk up and purchase? "None. All are promised."
The release of the ticket levels will surely be cause for some consternation among anxious fans. When asked how he plans to deal with the inevitable flood of calls, Cearley confidently stated that his staff was more than ready. "They are a great group and provide excellent customer relations. Assistant Managers Karen Warther, Mike Vernon and Wendy Whittington are extremely talented and greatly informed. They are very people oriented. Plus our part timers are great and they do a full time job" He also said that many of his calls were to thank the staff for doing a great job fulfilling requests such as moving seats.
Of course as with the demand being so high this year, even something as simple as moving seats takes a lot of points. "To realize any type of upgrade in tickets, the patron had to have a point level close to 20,000 cumulative points" Cearley said. Approximately Seventy-five percent of the 14,500 total donors had less than 20000 points. The average donor level is between 11000 and 12000 points. The highest point level is over 600000 and there are over 110 donors who have amassed 100000 points.
With so few tickets available to the non-contributing public, is there any chance that Georgia would implement the ticket lottery that recently made headlines at Ohio State University? Cearley said that without knowing all of the particulars of the Ohio State situation, he seriously doubted that anything along those lines would ever be considered. "Our first priority would be to reward alumni and our most loyal patrons."
UGASports also took this opportunity to ask about rumors of a stadium expansion. With ticket sales at an all time high demand, the only way to accommodate more patrons is to either reconfigure the renewable season ticket procedure or expand the stadium. When asked Cearley said "I have seen no mention or plans for a stadium expansion. I have not been given any indication from the Development Office that there is a plan or study for doing so. "