Get ready to pay more to see the Gamecocks play football.
The University of South Carolina will raise season football ticket prices by $45 to $365 starting this year to pay for new facilities, athletics director Ray Tanner said Thursday. Ticket prices had not risen since 2008.
Average game ticket prices will increase by nearly $6.50 to $52 for seven home games. That’s twice as much as the average ticket cost in 2002.
Tanner said he expects some fan backlash, but USC’s higher ticket prices rank in the middle of 14 Southeastern Conference schools. Still, fans have not come back to Williams-Brice Stadium in the same numbers since the Gamecocks started charging an annual fee of up to $395 per seat.
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South Carolina football is on its best run ever – winning 31 games over the past three seasons, including a trip to the SEC Championship Game in 2011. And the Gamecocks are expected to have another strong fall season, led by consensus All-American defensive end Jadeveon Clowney of Rock Hill.
“We have enjoyed a successful run with our football team. But we have not raised ticket prices,” said Tanner, who was attending a USC trustees meeting at the university’s Aiken campus. “And, hopefully, it will be a long time before we increase them again.”
The higher season-ticket prices will add more than $2 million a year to USC’s athletic coffers, based on recent sales.
The increased ticket money will help pay part of the cost of more than $50 million in new facilities, including new football practice facilities and a plaza around Williams-Brice.
The school has undergone a nearly $200 million athletic building boom in recent years, including new baseball and softball stadiums, tennis courts and a new game-day parking site at the former State Farmers Market site as well as academic and administration buildings.
“It’s an investment back into our student-athletes, and (giving) them the projects and resources to compete at the highest level, Tanner said.
In addition to higher football ticket prices, USC hopes to receive money from a renegotiated Southeastern Conference television contract and a new bowl, between the SEC and Big 12 conferences, that will debut on New Year’s Day 2015.
Notices about the 14 percent ticket price increase will go out to Gamecock Club boosters next month.
Tanner said the Gamecock Club has rescinded a dues hike, set to start in 2014.
Gamecock Club membership is required to buy season tickets. In addition, fans must pay an annual seat fee, ranging from $50 to $395, that the school has no plans to change.
With the team’s on-field improvement, season-ticket sales last year surpassed 49,000 for the first time since USC started charging the seat fee in 2009. However, season ticket sales remain below the 59,600 sold in the final year before the fee was instituted.
Williams-Brice seats 82,250.
SEC season ticket prices
A look at the cheapest football season tickets per game at each SEC school during the 2012, 2011 and 2008 seasons. The average factors the season-ticket price and the minimum required donation. USC will raise season football ticket prices by $45, or about $6.50 per game, to $365 for the 2013 season.
SOURCE: The Birmingham News