Summer Smiles, Grad Gifts, and Great Giveaways
- May 31, 2023
Clearly disdaining Horace Greeley’s 1865 advice of, “Go west young man,” Clemson University’s football team’s first appearance in a football game played in California in more than four decades proved to be a rousing success as the Tigers dismantled Alabama 44-16 in winning the NCAA National Championship last week. Much has been written and spoken
Clearly disdaining Horace Greeley’s 1865 advice of, “Go west young man,” Clemson University’s football team’s first appearance in a football game played in California in more than four decades proved to be a rousing success as the Tigers dismantled Alabama 44-16 in winning the NCAA National Championship last week.
Much has been written and spoken about the Tigers dominance that handed Nick Saban his worst loss since becoming the Crimson Tide’s coach in 2007. While the final score wasn’t indicative, this fourth matchup in as many years in the college football final four saw the nation’s two best teams come into the game with perfect 14-0 records. What was a bit atypical was the availability of tickets for college football’s showcase game.
This year’s game was played in Levi Stadium, home of the San Francisco 49ers in Santa Clara, California. As beautiful as the 68,500-seat venue is, its location — coupled with the fact that two teams from across the country were playing in the game — found ticket prices at an all-time ‘low.’
On the day of the game, the average ticket price on StubHub was $448, making it the least-expensive college football championship game since the four-team playoff debuted in 2014. The cheapest ticket on the site sold for $40. The prior low was when Alabama and Clemson met three years ago in Glendale, Arizona, where the average StubHub ticket sold for $593.
In any sports championship playoff, no one can predict years in advance what teams could be participating. Most likely the decision to host the championship game away from the college football-heavy south was about expanding the footprint of the sport. But in this case, Santa Clara is not a college town, and its location limited the ability of Clemson and Alabama fans to take time off from work and pay the $1,500 nonstop air far from Atlanta to the west coast.
This game is a marquee game, and since its inception, it has been teams from the South or Midwest (the University of Washington an exception) that have made it to the dance. In the past two decades, Southern California is the only school to have been crowned National Champions, and that was via an Associated Press poll, long before the current playoff format was established.
The decision makers at the NCAA have plenty of folks to appease, especially those that control the myriad of college bowl games that take place each season. But one could reason that it may be prudent for the NCAA to evaluate the potential of expanding its footprint versus serving your existing market.
A stadium on the west coast seating 68,500 is a lot of folks, but it pales in comparison to existing venues more conveniently located to the hotbed of the college game. Why not establish a rotating schedule between the likes of Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium (71,000); Indianapolis’s Lucas Oil Stadium (67,000); the New Orleans Superdome (76,468) and Dallas’s AT&T Stadium (76,468)? All are indoor stadiums with great experience at hosting big-time events.
College football is not professional by name only. In fact, the top ten stadiums in the college game all exceed the seating capacity of any of the stadiums named above. While it would not be prudent to have the college championship game potentially giving any one team a home-field advantage, listed below are the ‘big time’ stadiums operating on college campuses 2018 average attendance figures.
10. University of Nebraska’s Memorial Stadium – 89,034
9. University of Georgia’s Sanford Stadium – 92,746
8. University of Tennessee’s Neyland Stadium – 93,022
7. University of Texas’s Darrell K. Royal Memorial Stadium – 97,712
6. Texas A&M’s Kyle Field – 99,844
5. LSU’s Tiger Stadium – 100,819
4. University of Alabama’s Bryant-Denny Stadium – 101,561
3. Ohio State University Ohio Stadium – 101,947
2. Penn State University’s Beaver Stadium – 105,485
1. University of Michigan’s ‘The Big House’ – 110,736
Not one of these edifices is located anywhere near the west coast!
But even these impressive attendance numbers come with some ‘regrets.’
Alabama’s least attended home game was the opener against Arkansas State (100,495). A few weeks later Saban commented on the student section’s lack of enthusiasm after a win over Louisiana-Lafayette. “I can honestly say I was a little disappointed there weren’t more students at the game. Me personally, I think it ought to be first-come-first-served. If they don’t want to come to the game, they don’t have to come. But I’m sure there are enough people around here that would like to go to the games, and we’d like for them too —because they support the players.”
James Franklin this season asked his fans for the ‘most challenging environment in college football.” A record Beaver Stadium crowd of 110,889 showed up to see the Nittany Lions 1 point loss to Ohio State. But the fans did come out; three times topping the 106,000 mark at home games.
For the record, the 2020 college football championship game will be played at the Superdome in New Orleans, which should make things a lot easier for fans to attend — that is unless west coast teams should somehow be involved!
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