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Ticket prices for the College Football Playoff final have fallen off a cliff

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Last year at this time, the College Football Playoff title game was one of the hottest tickets in sports, with the price of the cheapest seat peaking at about $1,700 on StubHub.

Alabama and Clemson will meet again for the title this year, and let’s just say demand has softened:

For the relatively low price of $140.60, plus another $40 or so in fees, you can buy an upper-deck ticket to this year’s title game on StubHub. The get-in price is even cheaper on SeatGeek at $134. The face value for those seats is $475.

For comparison’s sake, the cheapest StubHub ticket for Sunday’s NFL opening-round playoff game between the Bears and Eagles in Chicago is $189 as of this writing, while the get-in price for Saturday night’s performance of “Hamilton” in Pittsburgh is $195.

Two factors have conspired to drive down the cost of tickets for college football’s marquee event this year:


This year’s game will be played at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., which is a bit of a haul from either team’s home base: It’s about 2,600 miles from Clemson and 2,300 miles from Alabama. Fans who might blanch at a 35-hour drive will not find any comfort in airfares, either. A round-trip ticket from Greenville, S.C. (the closest major airport to Clemson) to San Jose, leaving Sunday and returning Tuesday to cut down on hotel costs, was going for north of $1,200 as of Thursday morning, and that includes a red-eye connection on the way back. The cheapest flights from Birmingham, Ala., are around the same price, and many of those trips involve a red-eye and multiple connections.

Hotel rooms in the vicinity of the stadium, meanwhile, are running at $350 and up for a two-night stay starting Sunday.

Championship football games at Levi’s Stadium are a tough sell even when both teams hail from the western portion of the United States. Here’s what the stadium looked like right before kickoff of this season’s Pac-12 title game between Washington and Utah, when organizers couldn’t even sell enough tickets to un-tarp the upper deck, much less fill the lower bowl:

Last year’s CFP title game was played in Atlanta, an easy drive for participants Alabama and Georgia. Two years ago it was played in Tampa, still a comfortable enough trip for Alabama and Clemson, and the get-in price was similarly expensive.


The Crimson Tide has been a participant in all five editions of the playoffs and will be playing in the final for the fourth straight year. The Tigers have advanced to at least the national semifinals in four straight years and will be playing in the title game against Alabama for the third time in four years. Throw in all the trips to conference title games (Alabama has been to five of the last seven in the SEC, while Clemson has been to four straight in the ACC), and that’s a lot of travel over the years.

The Alabama-Clemson rematch is even less enticing for casual fans, those not connected to either team. Why would anyone, even the exceedingly well-off, spend a small fortune to see two teams that play each other on this stage all the time?

“It’s sort of a perfect storm of factors at play this year,” Jesse Lawrence, the founder of secondary-ticket seller TicketIQ, told the Associated Press. “It’s a big ask for fans to come, and that’s why we’re seeing the prices the way they are.”

Next year’s CFP title game will be held in New Orleans, about a 4½-hour drive from Alabama and close enough to Clemson that it’s not much of a trip. Unlike Levi’s Stadium, the Superdome has hosted numerous important college football events in the past, and obviously New Orleans is a bigger tourist draw than Silicon Valley. Tickets for next year’s game will probably rebound, and should the Crimson Tide and Tigers meet again — and why wouldn’t they? — their fans seemingly will have some money saved up.

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