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Kentucky football’s ticket prices among the lowest in the SEC (But is it still too much?)

Photo: UK Athletics

Photo: UK Athletics

Photo: UK Athletics

As Kentucky strives to sell out Commonwealth Stadium for Saturday’s game vs. Georgia, there’s been a lot of talk about ticket prices, with many fans complaining that $60 is just too much to pay for a ticket. In the day and age of HD, more and more fans are staying home and watching games on TV, a completely understandable choice when you factor in price and convenience; however, it comes at expense of supporting the team and giving them a better home field advantage. Decreasing fan attendance at sporting events is a problem nationwide, so I thought I’d spend some time today comparing Kentucky’s ticket prices to the rest of the teams in the SEC, and calculating just how much a day at the game costs.

Turns out Kentucky has some of the cheapest tickets in the SEC when it comes to conference games. For conference games, Kentucky charges $60 per ticket for both upper and lower level reserved seats; when it comes to lower level ticket prices, that’s the second cheapest in the SEC behind Vanderbilt. For upper-level tickets, Kentucky’s ticket prices are about midway through the pack, although many of the larger stadiums offer cheaper prices for the true nosebleed seats. Some programs, like Alabama, Auburn, LSU, Georgia, and Texas A&M, charge up to $115 for tickets to conference games.

For non-conference games, Kentucky charges $45 – $50 per ticket, which is on the high end in the SEC for upper-level seating, but about average for lower-level seating. Compare all of the prices for yourself below:

UPPER LEVEL

LOWER LEVEL

Non-Conference

Conference

Non-Conference

Conference

Alabama (Capacity: 101,821)

$45 – $50

$75 – $115

$45 – $50

$75 – $115

Arkansas (Capacity: 72,000)

$35

$55 – $65

$45 – $55

$85

Auburn (Capacity: 87,451)

$30 – $110*

$65 – $100

$30 – $110*

$65 – $100

Florida (Capacity: 88,548)

$15 – $50

$35 – $75

$25 – $50

$65 – $85

Georgia (Capacity: 92,746)

$50 – $95

$65 – $95

$50 – $95

$65 – $95

Kentucky (Capacity: 61,000)

$45 – $50

$60

$45 – $50

$60

LSU (Capacity: 102,321)

$20 – $30

$40 – $115

$40 – $60

$65 – $150

Miss. State (Capacity: 61,337)

$35 – $55

$75

$35 – $55

$100

Missouri (Capacity: 71,004)

$15** – $45

$25** – $50

$60

$75

Ole Miss (Capacity: 64,038)

$35

$90

$35 – $55

$90

South Carolina (Capacity: 82,250)

$30

$65

$30

$65

Tennessee (Capacity: 102,455)

$30 – $48

$40 – $73

$45

$70

Texas A&M (Capacity: 102,733)

$60

$100 – $105

$65

$105 – $110

Vanderbilt (Capacity: 40,550)

$30

$55 – $75

$30

$55 – $75

  • * Auburn’s home game vs. Clemson was $110
  • ** Missouri charges $15 – $25 general admission to The Hill, a grassy slope in one end zone
  • All prices listed are for single-game tickets only and exclude promotions

Regardless of the fact that Kentucky’s conference game ticket prices are among the lowest in the SEC, $60 can still be a lot for some folks, especially when you can watch the game for free in the comfort of your own home. A question sports fans have to ask themselves more and more these days is, what’s the price of the “experience” of being at the game, and is it really worth it?

Let’s break it down the cost of going to a game for two people and a family of four:

Going to the game (two people): $171 – $181

  • Tickets (at face value): $60 x 2 = $120
  • Gas: Depending on range, $5 – $15
  • Parking: $15
  • Food: Roughly $31
    • 2 sodas = $4 x 2 = $8
    • 2 popcorns = $3 x 2 = $6
    • 2 “specialty concessions” (Chicken Tender basket, Hot Brown Nachos, etc.) = $8.50 x 2 = $17

Going to the game (family of four): $322 – $332

  • Tickets (at face value): $60 x 4 = $240
  • Gas: Depending on range, $5 – $15
  • Parking: $15
  • Food: Roughly $62
    • 4 sodas = $4 x 4 = $16
    • 4 popcorns = $3 x 4 = $12
    • 4 “specialty concessions” (Chicken Tender basket, Hot Brown Nachos, etc.) = $8.50 x 4 = $34

That’s not even factoring in tailgating (cost of food/drink you bring) or merchandise. So, not cheap, although it should be noted that you can find tickets for much, much cheaper than $60 if you want to deal with scalping. Regardless, whatever you pay will be more expensive than watching the game at home, which is FREE, or, if you order food and buy beer, $30 or so. And, you can rewind, pause, watch other games, be on the live blog, check Twitter, and drink, all while wearing your pajamas. All in all, watching the game at home is a pretty irresistible option if you think about it.

But…

Isn’t there something to be said for being there? For the shiver that comes from “football weather” and the roar when Boom Williams finds a hole and gets 60? For getting loud on third down, hearing the coal whistle Toot! Toot! in person, and hugging the person next to you when the defense gets a big sack? Sure, with TV, you get to rewind, see all the best camera angles, and listen to commentary, but nothing compares to being in the stadium when the Cats are up by seven in the fourth and “Grove Street Party” comes on and the entire place feels like it’s about to explode. Can you imagine being there if Kentucky beats Georgia to become bowl eligible for the first time since 2010? To quote the MasterCard commercial, it would be priceless.

And then, there’s the impact the crowd can have on the team. Sure, creating a loud environment makes it hard for the opponent, but isn’t there also something to be said for going to the game to show the team you care? After the 0-2 start, many in the fanbase checked out. With a chip on their shoulders, Stoops and his team rallied back to 5-3 and are now calling on fans to pack the stands for what could be the biggest win of the season. Confidence is a fickle thing in football; how much would it mean to the team to see a full stadium on Saturday? As fans, what responsibility do you bear in creating a home environment?

I’ll leave you with this: how much are you willing to pay for an “experience”? Or, on the flip side, what’s the price of regret?

Article written by Mrs. Tyler Thompson

No, I will not make you a sandwich, but you can follow me on Twitter @MrsTylerKSR or email me.

35 Comments for Kentucky football’s ticket prices among the lowest in the SEC (But is it still too much?)



  1. Lip Man 1
    8:21 pm November 3, 2016 Permalink

    When (if) Kentucky ever starts winning in football like Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, Florida I think fans won’t mind as much paying that amount.

    However given the history of UK football that simply may be asking to much for basically “mediocrity” in the sport.

    Start winning on a consistent time frame and you can probably charge as much as you want and get away with it.



    • distortedview
      8:51 pm November 3, 2016 Permalink

      so it will take UK winning National Championships regularly for you to buy a $60 ticket. thats insane.



    • ClutchCargo
      8:06 am November 4, 2016 Permalink

      I don’t think Lip Man 1 is saying we have to win titles regularly, as only Alabama meets that criterion. Fair weather fans make up a sizable chunk of any fan base, and this program is still stuggling to establish itself. A team that is regularly competitive in the SEC will draw the fans in, it will just take some time.



  2. KSR1
    8:31 pm November 3, 2016 Permalink

    Good analysis, Mrs. Thompson! There is also a big difference between the upper deck in CWS and Deck 6 in Death Valley. Ticket prices have certainly gone up. No question about it. But we have a very facility now and the team seems to be moving in the right direction. I hope the fans will turn out. There really is nothing like being at the game in person. Go Cats!



    • UKPROF
      12:00 am November 4, 2016 Permalink

      I agree, nice article. Attending one game (Southern Miss) with the wife and two boys was almost $400. If you take the family, you need to be in a much higher tax bracket than I. I could go alone, for about $100, but I want to be able to come home to the wife and kids. Yes, it is a financial strain for most people (families) to be able to attend UK football games, let alone more than 1 game.



  3. onsides
    8:42 pm November 3, 2016 Permalink

    Maybe people don’t want to pay for the stupid uniforms Mitch loves. Kidding.



  4. KSR Spy
    8:51 pm November 3, 2016 Permalink

    Thanks for writing this up. It gets very pricey with what you posted, not even counting paying for a sitter (4 kids) if only my wife and I go.

    I would LOVE it if they tiered the costs. It would be easy to pay $15 or $20 a person for the really bad upper seats. We would actually be able to make a few games at that price. Plus, lets be honest with ourselves (especially when it’s colder) those seats in the upper corners are pretty bad. Definitely not worth the $60 a ticket they’re going for now.

    It would be different if they were selling out every single game, but they aren’t. If those sold the terrible seats in the corners for $15-$20 each, that would free up enough we could spend the extra on sitters, the 2+ hour drive, etc to make it to a few games every year. That would be awesome.



    • BNClay
      9:57 pm November 3, 2016 Permalink

      I have sat all the way at the tippy top, no rows behind me. It was still a good seat. Not a bad seat in commonwealth I don’t think.



    • az1006
      9:09 am November 4, 2016 Permalink

      There aren’t bad seats in Commonwealth. In fact, the to row might be the best seat in the house. You have a wall to lean against during the game, and you can really see plays open up because you can see the entire field and see it well. I was top row for the “Stevie Got Loose” game and I was yelling “Hit Stevie, hit Stevie!” 2 or 3 seconds before Woodson threw the ball. It’s a great venue to watch the games. Realistically, they should charge more for lowers (say, $75) and charge $45 for uppers. Maybe it wouldn’t scar so many people away, and the bottom line doesn’t really change.



  5. rem392
    9:42 pm November 3, 2016 Permalink

    My question to the BBN is: if your son played football for UK would you want the fans in the stadium or at home watching on TV? Get out and support this team! We need a sellout



  6. Craig
    9:52 pm November 3, 2016 Permalink

    I still go to games – making it to 4 of 6 home games this year. But I just looked at the ticket I have from the first game I attended (Florida, 1995) and it was $18 – after inflation, worth $28.50 now. I get that good facilities cost money, but it’s no surprise that attendance is down almost everywhere when every game is on tv in HD (I remember listening to games on the radio or watching tape delays in the 90s) and the cost of going to games has more than doubled. We also somehow haven’t quite gotten people back on the bandwagon. People still don’t want to believe that we’ve improved a whole lot from the start of the year and are playing really good football. That Southern Miss loss was a massive blow to our fans’ psyche.



  7. cdeventing
    11:43 pm November 3, 2016 Permalink

    It’s all about priorities. I’m a UK student, so home games cost me $5 each. I Park in a free lot, I don’t buy food at the game. I also go to every away game. I haven’t missed a single UK game in 3 years. Trips like LSU and Florida cost me around $200 between ticket and gas. I take food from home and if I need to spend the night, I sleep in my car. Mizzou cost be under $100 total. If people find it too pricey to go to a game, cut out the extra costs like in-stadium food. Totally worth it to be there in person. Some of my favorite all-time memories have come from other SEC stadiums, and I will never regret making those happen.



  8. cdeventing
    11:45 pm November 3, 2016 Permalink

    Also, a little note on other stadiums – the grass hill with general admission at Mizzou is GENIUS. Those tickets are I think $15, and people brought in chairs, blankets, etc and basically picnic on the grass above the endzone. Looked like a blast, and a cool family environment. Obviously not feasible with the way our stadium is built, but works great for them.



    • stoopstroops
      7:12 am November 4, 2016 Permalink

      Not genius. Not even close. First off if you want to go in a picnic then go to the park. Secondly having an open end zone let’s noise out of the stadium, ruining home field advantage if the opposing team is going that way in the 4th.



    • ClutchCargo
      8:12 am November 4, 2016 Permalink

      I don’t completely disagree that it can be a good time, but the open end zone concept only happens at places like Missouri these days because it doesn’t make sense to add a lot of seats that will just sit empty.



  9. WeareBBN
    11:48 pm November 3, 2016 Permalink

    Wish I could get by for that amount. I have 2 season tix so they cost a little less per game but I drive almost 4 hours each way. My tix, gas, hotel room, plus food for the entire time each game cost me about $500. Been to all but Vandy this season and will not be going down for Peay but we have a great time. The MSU game, though we should have won by 20, was priceless. I also try to make more of the trip, like the MSU game we went Friday and caught the blue/white bball game and saw the Brown at Bengals Sunday on the way home.



  10. Angelo
    1:38 am November 4, 2016 Permalink

    Home: 70 inch HD, couch, liquor, pizza delivery.
    I went to the final four in Arlington TX. Good lowest level seats. Home is better!!



    • stoopstroops
      7:16 am November 4, 2016 Permalink

      I would agree that if you go somewhere and get the lowest ticket then it’s not going to be a good experience. Bottle line is fans should LOVE being in that atmosphere and should be 100% backing their team and creating the best home field advantage possible.



  11. BlueDew
    4:41 am November 4, 2016 Permalink

    $60 is cheap, Try the season tickect route. My tickets (2) cost $1400+ When you add on K Fund. That’s
    over $100 each. Drive two hours one way. Then drive home after the game. Really interesting with all the deer running across the roads. Get home around 2:30 AM after a 7:30 PM start. We support the program, but it comes with a cost, of more than money. You have to decide if you want to support a cause you are passionate about or sit around and complain about how much it cost in money, time, and effort. People say we are crazy. Maybe so, but we support U.K. football. People have said for 108 years that Cub fans are crazy. Who is crazy now?



  12. Jude
    6:13 am November 4, 2016 Permalink

    I have 4 kids so you’re looking at $600 +. I also have a 60″ HD TV and a comfortable couch.

    If I go I go with a buddy and leave the family out of it. No way would I pay $60 to sit in the upper deck.



  13. stoopstroops
    7:24 am November 4, 2016 Permalink

    Nothings more frustrating in sports than fair weather fans. Had we won vs southern miss and played decent vs florida, sitting at 6-2 possible ranked, I bet 60 wouldn’t be too bad of a price then. But we didn’t so now 60 is too much, sad. We have a chance to lock up a bowl game and get ANOTHER sec win, I’ll be in those stands with every penny I can find because that’s what true fan does. If we win this game the only thing people that aren’t there have to be disappointed in is themselves for not being there, not the team, not the coaches, not the record, not the facilitit’s, nothing but your damn lazy cheap self.
    .



    • ClutchCargo
      8:22 am November 4, 2016 Permalink

      I understand the frustration. But understand that the thing about fair weather fans is that they will come around when the team starts winning consistently. When we get to that point and sustain it over time it will no longer be an issue. I firmly believe BBN can and will support football when they start to feel a sense a pride like they do for basketball.



    • stoopstroops
      8:27 am November 4, 2016 Permalink

      “Fans” (if that’s what you want to call them) also need to realized that we aren’t going to win close games with half the stadium full. I understand that people may not the the money to spend especially for the whole family. But don’t suddenly find the money when we have 8 or 9 wins. Be there through is all not just the winning times. #allin



  14. jrdh13
    8:12 am November 4, 2016 Permalink

    prices werent including all of the beer and/or liquor before the game add another 30-50.. also when you go into the stadium the noise level is so low there’s no experience involved at all. sorta like rupp people asking you to sit and stop jumping



    • stoopstroops
      8:30 am November 4, 2016 Permalink

      Not to get off subject but Rupp has the best ability for home court advantage and fails miserably. Needs to be changed and needs to change very soon. I have had people ask me to sit down at basketball games and it’s just pathetic.



  15. CPACAT
    8:40 am November 4, 2016 Permalink

    IF you can afford it, there is no memory more lasting or money better spent than to attend memorable games with your kids!

    My sixteen year old son still talks about the time we ran on the field after beating South Carolina (and the Ole Ball Coach) in 2010.

    We were at the MSU game two weeks ago hugging the little ole ladies behind us after the field goal! (Shout out to my Cadiz Ladies…and its BA-DET not BI-DAY, LOL!!!!)



  16. Glenn Fohr
    8:51 am November 4, 2016 Permalink

    Yep, its hard on families to go. If you can afford season tickets that is the way to go because then game day isn’t such a financial shock!!



  17. W F Reserve
    8:52 am November 4, 2016 Permalink

    I am a long time season ticket holder and it gets tougher every year. In addition to the increased ticket prices, K Fund donation per seat, UK added on a $200 K fund donation to the parking pass in the Orange Lot. All that said, I still go. Here is my question: Is it financially better for UK not to sell the $60 upper corner tickets Saturday or fill them up with $20 ticket prices and have those fans buy UK merchandise and concessions? Then if the product gets better, turn those fans into season ticket holders at some point? I like a “tiered” pricing system until you have so much demand you can afford to keep them all at $60 on the sides.



  18. CarltonBanks
    9:25 am November 4, 2016 Permalink

    We were first row in the upper level for Alabama @ Tennessee a few weeks ago. Face value was $90 and they put 100k+ in the seats. Side note: a scalper offered $250 per ticket before the game.



  19. Glenn Fohr
    9:39 am November 4, 2016 Permalink

    As far as Rupp goes it is a joke for the common man. Nose bleed seats, dangerous 1970’s design of steps, and poor facilities. Next great investment is an on campus arena more tailor made for the regular fan and the not the super rich.



  20. kycats13
    9:52 am November 4, 2016 Permalink

    My bet is that if you walk over to the game on Saturday and just hang about someone will give you a ticket just before the game starts. Actually I think the prices are to high to attract someone that might just decide to go to the game at the last minute.



  21. snarkster
    12:42 pm November 4, 2016 Permalink

    UK’s ticket prices aren’t that bad until you get 20-25 rows into the upper deck (especially the corners). The farther up you get, the harder it is to justify the cost when you can sit at home (or even in the parking lot tailgating or a bar) and have a better experience in some ways – especially when you can access a wider, more varied and higher-quality away refreshments (including alcohol) and you have access at home to clean facilities out of the elements without a 2-mile slog. You can also enjoy it with as many of your friends as you wish. I think they need to incentivize people to give these benefits up with discounts on lower-quality, less-convenient seating.

    The farther up you get, the more you eliminate the market for some older fans who may have the income to afford the seats, but are faced with a physical challenge of making the climb (several times if you include restroom/concession runs) and some younger fans are fine physically, but can’t afford $60/gm. I definitely think that UK should draw an arc in the second deck. Have a pricing tier for the lower bowl, and premium second-level seats inside the arc and then graduated pricing the higher (and toward the corners) you go.

    I believe though that in this age of HD where every game is on TV, you’re still gonna have a hard time filling the very worst nose-bleed seats on a game-in-game-out basis short of deep discounts or donating them to charitable groups.

    )



  22. snarkster
    12:44 pm November 4, 2016 Permalink

    UK’s ticket prices aren’t that bad until you get 20-25 rows into the upper deck (especially the corners). The farther up you get, the harder it is to justify the cost when you can sit at home (or even in the parking lot tailgating or a bar) and have a better experience in some ways – especially when you can access a wider, more varied and higher-quality array of refreshments (including alcohol) and you have access at home to clean facilities out of the elements without a 2-mile slog. You can also enjoy it with as many of your friends as you wish. I think they need to incentivize people to give these benefits up with discounts on lower-quality, less-convenient seating.

    The farther up you get, the more you eliminate the market for some older fans who may have the income to afford the seats, but are faced with a physical challenge of making the climb (several times if you include restroom/concession runs) and some younger fans are fine physically, but can’t afford $60/gm. I definitely think that UK should draw an arc in the second deck. Have a pricing tier for the lower bowl, and premium second-level seats inside the arc and then graduated pricing the higher (and toward the corners) you go.

    I believe though that in this age of HD where every game is on TV, you’re still gonna have a hard time filling the very worst nose-bleed seats on a game-in-game-out basis short of deep discounts or donating them to charitable groups.