Fans jammed USC’s phone lines Monday seeking tickets to watch the Gamecocks play in their first Southeastern Conference championship game.
But most will have to pay a hefty price to witness school history. With the Dec. 4 game in Atlanta against Auburn sold out, $80 face-value tickets are selling for an average of $450, according to one resale site.
The cheapest tickets were priced at $300 for upper-deck seats in the end zone, while fans needed to pay about $1,200 for seats near the 50-yard line, according to a check of several sites Monday.
A 28-person suite sold on eBay for $22,500 on Monday.
Where did all the tickets go?
USC and Auburn each received an allotment of 15,900 tickets — almost half the seats in the Georgia Dome.
At USC, most tickets were sold Monday to booster-club members who have given a lot of money for a long time, said Lance Grantham, the school’s director of ticket operations.
Other tickets will go to students, staffers, faculty members and other university officials — including the board of trustees.
The SEC sells championship-game tickets to other schools, sponsors and Georgia Dome suite- and ticket-holders who get a chance to see any event held at the stadium.
The conference also sells 20,000 tickets to the public, but those were gone by the summer.
Since the game moved to Atlanta in 1994, the SEC has given fans who bought title-game tickets the first chance to buy them again the next year, said David Knight, the conference’s director of championship ticket operations.
About 200 general-public tickets are not renewed each year, which allows about 100 fans from the waiting list to buy two seats apiece.
The waiting list for this year’s game was about 20,000, Knight said.
The best bet for Gamecocks fans is the resale market.
On average, SEC championship tickets sold on StubHub were costing $450, spokeswoman Joellen Ferrer said.
That’s below StubHub’s averages for the past two title games, which matched Florida and Alabama — $573 last year and $488 in 2008.
But that could change in coming weeks as fans — especially those of title-game newcomer USC — start buying tickets closer to kickoff, Ferrer said.
Fans from Alabama — the home state of the undefeated Auburn Tigers — have been buying championship tickets off StubHub for a couple of weeks, Ferrer said. Sales to South Carolina fans spiked after Saturday’s win against Florida.
Prices for the title game have spiked in recent years well past the $250 average for the Tennessee-LSU meeting in 2007 and the $194 average for the Arkansas-Florida contest in 2006.
A few months ago, tickets were selling for a little more than $90 on StubHub.
“We’ve seen them go through the roof,” Ferrer said.
USC officials who deal with tickets said they have not seen this much excitement — and ticket demand — for a game in years.
Jerry Brewer, the university vice president who oversees student ticket sales, said people spotting him at the game in Gainesville, Fla., on Saturday asked him for seats to the title contest.
Phone lines to the school’s athletics department and student affairs office were busy often Monday.
“It’s been nonstop,” Gamecock Club director Patrick McFarland said. “Nothing I’ve seen (in 11 years) has beaten the buzz about this game.”