Clemson students will find out Wednesday night whether they will be able to watch the Tigers in a rematch against Alabama's Crimson Tide for the College Football Playoff National Championship Game at Tampa's Raymond James Stadium for free.
For many students, it's the only way they can afford to attend the game. The average price for tickets sold on SeatGeek, a popular ticket site, was $1,125 earlier this week and the cheapest tickets available on StubHub were going for $799 late Tuesday.
Taco Bell and the CFP Committee are picking up the tab for 1,000 student tickets to the championship game, 500 of which will go to Clemson students. Those 500 seats will be located in the Live Más student section. Tickets will be distributed lottery style to graduate or undergraduate students who registered by 4:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Though the tickets are ultimately free, interested students paid a $550 refundable deposit before registering.
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"That's a lot for a college kid," said Junior Ryan Simmons. "Now if I win a ticket, most of my money I saved up I ended up putting into that."
Despite that concern, Simmons and his friends are already working on plans to travel to Tampa and split the cost of a hotel room, if they get tickets.
Joe Galbraith, Associate Athletic Director at Clemson, said the school saw a strong response to the lottery registration even with the new price tag.
Students who receive a ticket will be refunded in full after picking up their ticket in Tampa and at the conclusion of the game. Students who do not receive a ticket will be refunded in full after lottery winners are announced Wednesday night.
Students who receive a ticket, but choose not to attend, will lose their $550 deposit.
The refundable deposit is not a Clemson University policy. Galbraith said the requirement was instituted by the CFP Committee to insure that students used the tickets they were given.
"It makes it harder, but I think it's better in the end," said Simmons. He noted that a lot of Clemson students ended up with lottery tickets to last year's national championship game in Phoenix, but couldn't find a way out there.
That wasn't just a Clemson issue, Galbraith said the policy was put in place after the committee noticed students from participating schools getting free tickets then leaving those student section seats empty on game night.
In an email sent to students on Tuesday morning, Clemson administrators asked those who aren't serious about making the trip to Tampa not to request a ticket, because they could be taking the place of a student who actually plans to be there to cheer on the Tigers.
As for the students lucky enough to land a free ticket, Simmons says students are already talking in various Facebook groups about how they'll split the cost of gas for the 576 mile road trip from the heart of Clemson to Tampa's Raymond James Stadium.