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Why UK Doubled the Price of Student Basketball Tickets


After a disappointing student turnout for Kentucky’s first two home games of the regular season, everyone is trying to understand how student tickets transformed from a commodity worth camping out overnight for, into an abandoned afterthought.

A topic everyone has an opinion on, students cite a variety of reasons (a.k.a. excuses).  One that makes the most sense for the rapid decline in attendance is the change in price.  Over the summer, UK doubled the price from $5 to $10, the first price increase since the late 90’s.  Why did they make the sudden change?

“We want to make sure that when our students, when they make the decision to buy, that it is an intentional decision,” Guy Ramsey, the Director of Strategic Communication for UK Athletics told Jerry Tipton. “That they’re going to plan to come to the games.”

UK’s logic is that if students pay more for tickets, they won’t purchase them, then decide to change plans on gameday.  Is it correct logic?  That’s for you to debate in the comment section.

[Herald-Leader]

Article written by Nick Roush

"Look upon the doughnut, and not upon the hole." @RoushKSR

39 responses to “Why UK Doubled the Price of Student Basketball Tickets”

  1. TonyMontana

    At $10… there’s no doubt you’re definitely going to the game, its very intentional. At $5… well maybe it was an accident and I’ll probably forget and might not make the game. Great logic.

  2. Irwin R. Fletcher

    Sorry, but student tickets should be flat out FREE. First come, first serve at a special student entrance.

    The lottery is straight up bullshit & always was.

    1. bigblueinyoureye

      Seconded

    2. Rod Crandler

      Agreed. Make them free and let the students line up. After the game starts, allow anyone under 21 seated anywhere else in the arena move to the student section until full.

    3. BBNDan7

      THANK YOU

    4. BigBlueMeade

      I’ve attended two universities in my college career, both mid major D1 but have never paid for a ticket. It’s great!

    5. Seven Ate Nine

      Student here. I’m totally fine paying $5 or even $10 for a game – done it for football games several times. The lottery is the problem here. I’ve never tried to enter the lottery and never will; it’s a huge turn off and way too much trouble than I’m willing to put myself through when watching on tv is so easy. Get rid off the lottery, sell the tickets for a discounted price, first come first serve. Just like football.

  3. RackEmWillie

    Wait, $10 is considered an amount of money that will make them more deliberate in their choices?

    Is this 1950?

    Ticket sales are probably down because of the national anthem protests.

    1. Ukgrad2006

      Whehhh???????????????????????

    2. BBNDan7

      Ignorance is never lacking in these comments. You have to purchase in 4 so yes $40 is quite a bit more than $20, especially for a college student. The anthem has literally nothing to do with anything in this situation

    3. FakeNewsCATS

      This is fake news. You do not have to purchase in 4’s. You can choose individual games if you don’t want to buy all 4 games.

    4. 8 god

      “Ticket sales are probably down because of the national anthem protests” Hahahahaha. Cheers fam, been a long day and needed that laugh 🙂

  4. Tipa

    I don’t think this is nearly as complicated as some want to make it out to be. The pricing will affect the average student (not average student-basketball fan), but the teams we schedule early are awful. Students just are not interested in watching 8 exhibition games until we start to look like a basketball team playing another actual basketball team. Also the lottery process has always been awful, they used to have 4 hour lines to get a chance at a ticket, now students know before they go if they will get a seat or not. Student attendance will remain low until they return from the winter break. (aside from the UofL game)

    1. Tipa

      Another thought, I think its unfair to show student attendance and say its lower than expected, the vast majority of season ticket holders do not personally attend the early games either. They sell or give away their tickets to friends and family which is something students cannot do near as easily. That gives the illusion of strong “regular-ticket” attendance when in fact the majority of people who had tickets did not personally go.

  5. notFromhere

    Yeah, no one willing to bother with standing in line for a lottery or to get tickets is intending to go to a game. To the students that want to go to games and actually cheer, 5$ is probably a lot of money when you consider tuition and fee increases.

    Obviously, if they want students at the game, this is a backwards step

  6. BluKudzu

    Students get screwed at Rupp, plain and simple. If they wanted the students to be part of the experience, they would have done so. Upper arena is wrong.
    They should be close to the floor, in the first 5 rows, at least, and the end zone.

    1. Luether

      Right, UK students are victims – you must be a DemocRat…

    2. dubsaholic

      Students get completely hosed at Rupp. Look at the bigger schools student sections and where they put their students. It doesn’t hurt the university. The university isn’t going to drown in debt because they gave out tickets to students.

      Freaking Arizona State has a better student section.

    3. Bob Sacamano's Rat Hat

      What’s wrong is Rupp Arena, in general. Rupp desperately needs luxury suites so the blue hairs can sit in their own contained area with food, liquor, private bathrooms, TV’s to watch Fox news, closets to put their coats in, etc. They don’t really cheer anyway, so putting them behind glass in a suite isn’t hurting anything. After you get the blue hairs moved, THEN you can put the students closer to the floor, in real seats, for which, I’m sure they’d pay $10.

  7. UKBlue1982

    I understand that the athletic department wants the students to have skin in the game. But with the outrageous tuition and housing costs for today’s students, along with the Nike and SEC Network windfalls, there is no reason for them to be charged for tickets of any kind. The lottery system is also too complicated and exclusive to build student loyalty. In my UK days (late 70s and early 80s), we camped out overnight, got out our 1st come-1st served control card and picked up tickets for 2-3 games at a time the next morning and at no charge. We also had lower and upper arena seats from center court to the opponents’ baseline. The student sections were always packed. Those seats are never coming back due to KFund donors, but eliminating the complexity and cost out of the process would go a long way in motivating the students to attend.

  8. dubsaholic

    Here’s how the lottery worked when I was there from 2007 – 2011.

    Step 1. Sign up for the lottery online.
    Step 2. 10 days later you find out if you won the right to actually go to the lottery.
    Step 3. Lottery starts at 8pm for a 4 game book of tickets.
    Step 4. Get in with your friends, make sure you all get the same # so you can get the same section of tickets.
    Step 5. Lottery positions get announced around 8:45
    Step 6. 3 hours of waiting
    Step 7. $5 tickets either in the eRupption Zone (which you then have to wait in line for at the gate of the game b/c it’s first come first serve) or upper lever more than likely which is approx. 1.2 miles away from the court.

    Then the added benefit of $25 parking or walking from campus to downtown in nov/dec at night?

    Sorry but double the cost, keep the crazy ass lottery, and don’t improve any of the problems with going to the game? I’m surprised when 75 students show up.

  9. CatstopWontstop

    Guy Ramsey, the Director of Strategic Communication for UK Athletics has apparently never taken a simple economics course. The simple economic principle of “sunk cost” debunks this theory:

    In economics and business decision-making, sunk cost refers to the cost that has already been incurred and cannot be recovered. Sunk costs (also known as retrospective costs) are sometimes contrasted with prospective costs, which are future costs that may be incurred or changed if an action is taken.

    In essence if I’m a student and I spent 2 hours waiting in the lottery and paid $20 for 4 tickets, or $40 for 4 tickets my desire to go to the game come game time should not change because I’ve already spent the money and cannot get it back. Additionally, going to the game “because I paid for it” incurs prospective costs of, say, buying merch, food, soft serve, etc. Might as well sit at home.

  10. UKinIN

    If the price increase is intended to ensure attendance why stop at $10 a ticket? Why not $100? Or $1000 a ticket? Then students would be 100 times more certain to attend the games right? If attendance is really the concern then open the tickets to the public for $10 or move people down from the upper level to fill in empty spots. The truth is UK wants to make more money off of the students and doesn’t care if they actually show up for the games.

  11. will1497

    I’m a student, and I know of friends who make a few hundred bucks per lottery for selling their tickets. To poor college students, this is simply a business they run during football, but mostly basketball season. I assume the empty seats are from students who end up stuck trying to sell the tickets and run out of time.

  12. UKLugo

    That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. Complete B.S.

  13. inside info2

    I can’t speak for students, but as a lifelong UK fan, it pains me to say this…I don’t care about the games nearly as much anymore. The one and dones here have ruined it for me. I don’t know the guys when they get here and they are gone before I get a chance to know them. Tyler Ulis and to a lesser extent KAT are the only guys I’ve really cared about in the last few years. We need a mix of 1&Done and 4 year players.

    1. e56

      much truth in this

    2. dubsaholic

      Kansas does that. And they get knocked out of the first round half the time. Louisville tries to do that, so does Michigan State. At the end of the day I don’t want the best players going to another school.

      Which players from the last couple years would you have given up for worse “4 year guys”?

    3. inside info2

      dubs — Kansas has a NC from 08 and Louisville has one (maybe temporarily) from ’13. UCONN has 2 since Calipari has been here and so does Duke. I’d rather have the same amount of Championships we have now and have a mix of 1 and 4 year players.

  14. 8 god

    This is appalling, and precisely why our home court advantage is not what it should be. The student section should be 4x the size of the erruption zone, like Michigan State or Duke or Kansas or any other self-respecting basketball power. Hell, even Indiana.

    I go to Duke (yikes I know) and even the NORTH CAROLINA game is free. That’s a value of hundreds of dollars. Of course, it sucks having to tent for games and then stand in line and then get squeezed so tight into the stands that you can’t move, but it works. Even mediocre Duke teams blow everyone out at home, including the Utah Valley team that played UK close.

    KSR has been on this for years; everyone can see that Rupp is a lame atmosphere except for once or twice a season. Why doesn’t UK Athletics make the change? As a wise man once said, follow the money.

    Also, my two cents on Duke this year since you’re still reading: Bagley, Carter are scary good. Duvall and Trent not overwhelming but shoot it better than our guards. Grayson still sucks. Depth will be a big issue for this team as the drop-off after the starting 5 is huge. I hope Coach K dies soon. I like watching the Duke offense, especially at home, but I quietly pull as hard as I can against them in March. I think Cal will have our guys playing stellar defense by tournament time, and Duke hates teams that play defense.

    Go cats, rat face, etc.

    1. ukcamel

      A lot of this is wrong. I went to Duke for law school years ago and never saw Cameron honestly full and loud other than the UNC game.

      And the home court margin of victory for Duke and Kentucky, over the years, is pretty similar. There are times that Coach K gets calls at home that Kentucky (or UNC, Kansas, Michigan State) do not. It’s stunning how much it feels like he is part of the officiating crew when you are sitting there.

      Finally, Kentucky gives the best seats to rich alums and donors – and it helps Kentucky be one of a handful of schools that actually sends money from athletics to the general fund. That just isn’t necessary for Duke, given all that old slave…err…I mean tobacco money they have.

      As someone else said, if we had club seats and suites, we could probably afford to give the students a whole half of the lower bowl like Duke does.

    2. 8 god

      I can confirm it’s full even for exhibiton games. The product on the court is the same. The students care about the same.

      And Duke bball is a cash cow, it’s all about the TV money. The Keeneland crowd will pay for whatever tickets you give them. I think it’s just ingrained in the culture of UK Athletics. Could gradually phase out the current layout and move some people around, not lose much money and have the place rocking even on weeknights.

      That said, perhaps nothing can be done until they build a new Rupp…

  15. VolsSuck

    As a college student (not at Kentucky but sorta the same thing), I cannot believe the university does not see the problem with this price increase. First of all, the $10 price is misleading. The most common way students purchase tickets at UK is through 4-game packages at lotteries. So, that package jumped from $20 to $40. The average student can spend $20 and still make it through that week problem free. However, dropping $40 is a completely different situation. Not to mention the time spent going through the lottery process.

    Kentucky has a few options to consider to get students back in the eRUPPtion Zone:

    (1) – Get rid of the lottery system. College is hard. Tests and papers take up a ton of time. A student may want to go to the game, but may not have time to have the chance to get tickets.

    (2) – Drop the price. $40 at once is a huge hit to the majority of students’ bank accounts. I’m not saying $40 isn’t worth it for 4 UK basketball games. I would pay $50 if I had the money. I’m just saying that college students are h*cking broke.

    (3) – Get rid of the package deal. I would much rather pay for one or two games that I know I could get to than be forced to buy a package that is more expensive and less convenient. Packages are great for lowering the price for fans, but they are not great for packing the student section.

    (4) – Pull a WKU and make it a first-come, first-serve event. Western has never been a powerhouse, but the student section is consistently packed in their stadium, even though they have more seats in that section to fill. Why? Tickets for students are free. Students pay $10,000 for tuition. Could some of that go to the probability they will attend sporting events? If this were adopted, campouts would be much more common.

    1. FakeNewsCATS

      I’ve skipped every lottery the last two years by going to others sports like volleyball and soccer and using bbn reawrds and i’m pretty sure you don’t have to buy a package. The last time i got tickets i didn’t have to buy them all because i go home for break. I much prefer this rather than having to camp out for tickets – madness campout is the worst and i got tickets through the app.

  16. kfwa

    Calipari is saying we’re going to suck before we even play the first game of the year.

    Our first opponent in Rupp is Utah Valley St followed by a good but uninspiring Vermont team.

    It wasn’t just the students.

    UK needs to be careful in this repetitive strategy of reloading every year because in a year like this where the coach is attempting to set expectations and the mantra is becomes wait until March!

    well…people wait until March.

    We as a fan base and coaching staff in the era of one and done/young players have effectively rationalized November and early December games as meaningless , so why is anyone really surprised that student participation is down – especially in light of the issues with how they pay for and receive tickets.

    1. inside info2

      ^^^ what I said, only better.

  17. Kentucky Gentleman

    It would be interesting to see a breakdown of what other schools are charging for student tickets.

  18. tlwood43

    Shocking. As an old guy (UK in the mid 1980s), I liked the old system. An activity fee that paid for everything with a Sunday morning lottery for 3 games. And we had a chance to get great seats. Lower arena from mid court to opponents bench. I only got stuck with upper arena for one distribution (it included Indiana). If I were at UK now, and the eRUPPtion Zone was my only lower arena opportunity, I might stay home more often than not. TV, even at Two Keys or the like, is way better than upper arena.

  19. catfanfromky

    The UK logic about making tickets more valuable and they will be less likely to be wasted is valid. This is seen with season ticket holders also. The same logic states that if people truly valued their UK tickets, they would not arrive 10 minutes late and leave early at the under 4:00 timeout. As long as people are willing to miss significant portions of games they paid for, it is evidence that tickets are under priced.

    A 20-year season ticket holder who never misses a game, including sitting on the top row (KK) for three seasons, I too am frustrated by the lack of student attendance, but also by the low participation of those in lower arena. I would gladly stand in the E-rupption zone at games. Over the years, I have been successful in moving down, but still sit midway up in upper arena. However, my ticket prices have tripled in the past 15 seasons from about $350 – $1,100 per seat this year. My tickets went up 10% this year. This is why attendance overall is down. Several people I know have dropped their tickets. I sit above the seats with mandatory k-fund donations because I can not afford to pay that and the ticket prices. UK wants the $40MM they receive annually from the SEC Network, and they want a filled arena with higher ticket prices. But they should not be upset when people prefer to watch the games from home on HD, instead of dealing with traffic, parking, food costs, etc.

    I care nothing about suites, arena amenities, beer, DJs, or most of the “experience” that UK is focused on. (exception – the new center hung video board is awesome, but the corner screens should show more game stats and not the same video feed and advertisements as on the main screens. That is another topic I could rant on, but not today.) I want to watch UK basketball play and beat good opponents. That is what I love and why I still have my tickets despite the price increases – for now.