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Sporting events pricing out fans?

In January, Darlington Raceway cut the price on 9,000 of its 62,000 tickets. Last week, the raceway cut concession prices as South Carolina’s only NASCAR race worked to log its fifth consecutive sellout.

Welcome to the near-term future of all S.C. sports, some fear.

As consumers’ disposable income shrinks, more and more fans will wait take longer to decide whether to attend sporting events. The sour economy slowed ticket sales for the Southern 500 compared to a year ago, track spokesman Jake Harris said. However, Harris said sales picked up as the race drew closer.

"The way it is with this economy, if you have the money two weeks out, you say, 'We’ll buy the tickets,' " Harris said.

If not, there’s always TV.

Darlington discounted 9,000 of its $45 tickets to $35 to help spur sales. In conjunction with Coca- Cola, the track also introduced a $165 package that includes four Southern 500 tickets, four hot dogs and four sodas. It also cut concession costs.

Other tracks on the NASCAR circuit also have had to cut ticket prices to spur sales. Alabama’s Talladega Superspeedway, for instance, cut the price for more than 20,000 of its tickets.

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FOOTBALL, PGA FEEL PAIN TOO

Darlington isn’t alone as it sweats out fans’ spending decisions.

USC: For the first time since 1999, USC has available season tickets for football. Sales have dropped about 10 percent since USC started a seat-license fee that adds up to $395 to the $320 cost of a season ticket. Many fans have elected to cut back on the number of season tickets they buy, athletics director Eric Hyman said.

Clemson: At Clemson, which started its seat-license plan last year, officials are tracking season ticket sales daily as the deadline nears for renewals. Sales are about on par with last year — at 57,000, said ticket manager Travis Furbee.

Heritage: Sales of skyboxes and tickets at the Verizon Heritage golf tournament — South Carolina’s only PGA event — were down almost 20 percent this year, said director Steve Wilmot. The Hilton Head tournament’s sponsorship contract with Verizon also expires next year. Keeping a sponsor is vital. Already, professional tourshave lost several sponsors.

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