BCS National Championship game a boon for ticket brokers

Alabama’s dynastic ambitions plus Notre Dame’s rebirth make the Jan. 7 college football national championship game at Sun Life Stadium a dream matchup for fans and host South Florida.

Ticket brokers are thrilled, too. Now that the showdown between college football’s No. 1 and No. 2 teams is set, try getting a seat that won’t bust your budget.

Prices will fluctuate until kickoff, but Monday on Ticketmaster, not many tickets were available, and they were going for $2,079 to $3,026 apiece as “package deals” in Section 415.

On the secondary market, the cheapest tickets were selling for $1,450, with the average price at $2,729, according to Chris Matcovich, senior director of data and communications for TiqIQ, a ticket market aggregator in New York.

“Right now, the ‘get-in’ price — which is the least expensive price — is higher than two of the last three Super Bowls,” Matcovich said. “There is a good quantity available. I’d wait to see what happens after Alabama gets their allotment. You can expect prices to drop. The question is, how much?”

The Bowl Championship Series title game features two of the sport’s most storied programs that have won a combined total of 18 national championships. Coach Nick Saban has Alabama playing for its third title in four years and the SEC going for its seventh straight title. Undefeated Notre Dame, which hasn’t won a title since 1988, has the No. 1 defense in the land, led by linebacker and Heisman Trophy candidate Manti Te’o.

When Notre Dame locked up its spot, prices soared 56 percent but have cooled 8 percent since Alabama beat Georgia for the SEC crown on Saturday.

“Alabama has played in two BCS championship games recently, so that could affect demand,” Matcovich said. “Notre Dame has been out of the picture for a while and has a huge fan base around the country. They’re the Yankees of college football. People love the Irish and hate the Irish. But everybody will be watching.”

The game should also be a bonanza for ESPN with projected TV viewership of 30 million, which would be a cable program record and the highest-rated title game since Texas-USC.

Each school is allotted 17,000 tickets. The 2,500 tickets Notre Dame is selling to students were priced at $300 until an anonymous alumnus donated $375,000 to reduce students’ cost to $150, the school said Monday. About 4,000 students have applied for tickets.

About 100,000 Notre Dame alumni, season-ticket holders and fans have requested tickets, senior assistant athletic director Josh Berlo said. Tickets will be distributed via lottery.

Two years ago, when Auburn played Oregon for the title, the “get-in” price was $1,800, higher than the $1,379 it cost to get into the 2010 Saints vs. Colts Super Bowl in Miami and the $1,354 it cost to get into last year’s Giants vs. Patriots Super Bowl, but lower than the $2,260 it cost to get into the coveted 2011 Packers vs. Steelers Super Bowl (for which the average list price was $3,649), according to Matcovich. Last year, when Alabama played Louisiana State for the title, the “get in” price was $1,200 compared to the average list price of $1,918.

“Football is always the biggest seller, and you had two classic franchises with Packers-Steelers that led to ridiculous prices,” he said. “Now you’ve got two powerhouse schools. It will be hard to get a ticket but it won’t reach the $1,800 price of 2010.”

Wouldn’t the lingering drag of the recession play havoc with supply and demand?

“Strapped students could make a profit selling their tickets,” Matcovich said. “But most of the buyers are big alumni with big jobs who are willing to spend on an expensive trip like this. They have plenty of disposable income.”

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