Michigan sells 86% of Sugar Bowl allotment and why I hate Stub Hub

Submitted by wresler120 on December 27th, 2011 at 4:26 PM

It appears that Michigan has sold 86% of their share of Sugar Bowl tickets, which were sold mostly within the first few days. It also appears their sales may end there thanks to Stub Hub. While a ticket through Michigan will set you back $125.00, a fan can easily go on Stub Hub and get tickets as low as $15.00 a piece. I cannot believe tickets are going for this low, and it really screws the schools over. If I ever want a ticket from Stub Hub it always seems like they cost 5 times face value. Did I mention that I really hate Stub Hub ... oh yeah .. and all ticket brokers .. I hate all ticket brokers.





December 28th, 2011 at 11:08 AM ^

My response was a little snarky, but you ought to cool it with the name-calling.  And in fairness, that really wasn't what oyu said in your original post.  You complained about seat licenses and Michigan ticket prices rising, not just brokers. 

You're also not necessarily correct that brokers undercut universities and make it harder for them to sell tickets.  By buying up large blocks of tickets, brokers offer a sort of insurance for universities, who want to set one ticket price and not adjust it to the market later on.  Think of it like the risk hedging that airlines do on fuel -- they enter into forward contracts for fuel, locking in one price for an extended period.  They may come out ahead or behind, depending on what fuel costs do in the future.  Regardless, they gain certainty on their financial outlook.  For some more thoughts on the economics of ticket brokers, here's a good paper:  There's more to it than what I wrote here - the summary of the findings is mostly on page 13.  http://www.eui.eu/Personal/Courty/Pub/JEP.pdf

Do ticket brokers take a financial hit on every transaction?  The one's that are still in business obviously don't.  My point was not that they always lose, but rather that they don't always win.  Why is that relevant?  I took one of your complaints to be that ticket brokers make life miserable for ordinary fans.  But that's not always true.  If there were no ticket brokers, you'd be stuck paying $120 for a ticket that you could have for $15 to the Sugar Bowl.  And if tickets sold out, you'd have to search harder (which is a cost to you) to find tickets.

So there's a partial response, free of snark.  You can sum up all of my blathering in two sentences:  secondary markets are useful for everyone.  Not everyone wins on every individual transaction, but on net everyone is better off.


December 28th, 2011 at 6:01 PM ^

but snarky doesn't work well for me...and I know the ticket business pretty well...and yeah I'm not overly thrilled with the seat license issue but it is what it is..it's also set the bar a bit higher, which means in the end the 'cost/value' of a ticket escalates from there...MY point was...as expensive as it already is...2x, 3x, 4x the additional cost is out of control anymore...and personally I've yet to find a face or less deal (save the sugarbowl apparently)...for any ticket I've looked for, and have simply said screw it...I'm not paying over face/cost...I'd rather watch from the confines of my couch or the Bighouse for now where I have some control as I buy direct from the athletic department...

I worked with an intern at one point a few years back and he talked at lunch a few times how his brother and he came to the USA for the opportunity to make money...his brother worked for a 'ticketing company' and spent his whole day on the phone buying up hot release tickets like Hannah Montana and other 'hot sells' at the time...they turned so much money on stub hub etc...because they could buy up hordes of tickets...it wasn't rocket science. And as many have said there are plenty of extrinsic factors such as a 'pretty crappy' matchup between UM and VaTech instead of SEC hype...not to mention the whole three bowls in the superdome adding a lackluster sale...so in the end, people who speculated because they know how to manipulate the system are losing some cash..but overall with everything they are selling, they still come out ahead...you can tell me til you are blue in the face, so long as there are secondary markets, someone is going to pay way more than they should have to. It's crap and I don't personally like it...snarky, name calling or whatever...you were a smartass in your remark, and so treat as you've been treated...I try to just read and get along but being flamed or smart alec remarks just don't fly with me...oh well, done with the discussion. My experience, those who make a buck off of others are always OK with it...

Blue in Seattle

December 27th, 2011 at 5:28 PM ^

Or is it just traditional processes (distribute blocks of tickets to Universities to redistribute by post office delivery) colliding with more advanced internet based processes?

Clearly it's time for the Universities to turn the tables and allow the Sugar Bowl to sell thru- from the Alumni Websites, but the only reason Stub-Hub has tickets is because someone printed them all out and sold them, or is dumping physical tickets on the Stub-Hub distribution platform.

It's not going to end the bitching (like people will never stop bitching about buying Airline tickets which are just as volatile and sold "online") but it would shift the burden of the cost to the direct source of the entertainment, i.e. the Sugar Bowl.

Overall 1000 unsold tickets is small compared to the payout overall, and unlike what get's printed, the Big Ten pays out the expenses to the University up to 100% of the payout, so I think in the end Michigan and the Big Ten will be in the black on this bowl.  Doesn't mean they shouldn't start leveraging for more of the profits, but if push came to shove, and the Sugar Bowl dumped Michigan and invited Boise State, would Boise State really say, "no thanks, I don't think we can move the tickets".

The reason this continues is because the Universities never refuse an invitation and, for the top bowls there is still profit for all, even if it is tilted to the Bowls.

One thing you could do instead of bitching online is to just not go to the bowl game and buy a ticket at all.


Hardware Sushi

December 27th, 2011 at 5:51 PM ^

I'm sorry you paid that much. That sucks (100% sincere).

On the other hand, selling out a Tuesday night game with two fanbases whose campuses are located >13 hours and >17 hours away who didn't win their conference championships shouldn't really be expected. Especially when said bowl is located in the same city as one of the biggest annual parties hosted a month and a half later (aka I'm not paying for Sugar Bowl and Mardi Gras flights even if I could get that Tuesday/Wednesday off after visiting family for Christmas...)

People can whine and complain but the writing was on the wall when the bowl was announced. This isn't really a new thing and something to remember next year for all bowls not called the Rose or National Championship.


December 27th, 2011 at 6:16 PM ^

Where are all of the StubHub tickets that are being sold coming from?  Did the Sugar Bowl sell them cheap to Brokers who can still make a profit reselling them for $40 on StubHub?

Why don't the Universities write it in their contracts that the bowl is not allowed to sell its own tickets for less than what it charges the Universities for similar tickets?  

Otherwise, why would anyone ever buy tickets from a University?  Just wait for StubHub / Brokers to dump their below-University cost tickets.



December 27th, 2011 at 8:23 PM ^

I'm guessing they're cheap because there's no SEC team. I bet SEC people bought tickets thinking an SEC team would be playing and people would make the 2-5 hour drive, and then they could sell their tickets for jacked up prices. But since it's Michigan and VT, nobody local really wants to go that bad, and are just trying to get rid of their tickets.

no joke its hoke

December 27th, 2011 at 6:23 PM ^

you can get just as screwed from a ticket broker the other way so you can't bang on them for the tickets being cheap. I bought UM/Ohio tickets in July of the 99 season and $300,come game day you could buy them for $40. you win some you lose some. can't blame Stub Hub for that.


December 27th, 2011 at 6:27 PM ^

your anger might be a bit misplaced.  Stubhub is just a ticket market, there isn't some guy named Mr. Stubhub who sits behind a computer and controls the prices.  If people really wanted to go to the game, they'd pay a lot.  In this case, people don't really want to go that much, so tickets aren't that expensive.

This is good news for fans who are price-sensitive and couldn't afford the much steeper tickets that the school charged.  Now some hardcore fans on a tight budget are able to go, thanks to Stubhub.  All hail Mr. Stubhub!


December 27th, 2011 at 7:10 PM ^

So what % of tickets of those allotted would Michigan theoretically have to sell in order to break even?  Anybody have an idea if 86% will cover expenses?


December 27th, 2011 at 7:29 PM ^

The problem isn't StubHub.  StubHub is a great way for buyers and sellers to get together and sell tickets at a market price.  The problem with the bowls is that THEY screw over the schools by forcing them to buy tickets at an inflated price and bear the risk that not all the tickets will sell.

the Glove

December 28th, 2011 at 11:03 AM ^

I agree its the bowl games fault. stub hub is a great resource, I went to half of the games this year and saved a ton off of buying tickets from them for games like Illinois and Northwestern. Also, I am sure I would have had to pay more for tickets to the Iowa game if I would have had to buy them from a scalper. I'm not a major university, I am a consumer and the best deal works for me. Now if I could just get a better deal on flying to New Orleans.


December 28th, 2011 at 11:33 AM ^

Something strange is going on with the Illinois basketball game.  The game is nearly sold out, only singles remaining, and the stubhub prices are already getting out of hand.  I fear an Illinois takeover is imminent, as of the non-restricted games(read MSU and OSU) Penn State(opener) and Illinois are the only ones currently approaching a sellout.

On a slightly unrelated note: TicketCity is usually a little cheaper

EZ Bud

December 28th, 2011 at 10:51 AM ^

This really got me worked up too. I bought tickets through Michigan, thinking that the StubHub price would be double face value, only to find I could have got a BETTER ticket for a fifth of the price. I guess we're the idiots here.


December 28th, 2011 at 2:01 PM ^

I also bought from the University.  I feel stupid for wasting money, I am only mad at myself.

If - more generally - you're angry because we're not selling out, then blame the bowl system for negotiating a deal to put BCS bowls on week nights.  It is probably a better financial deal and very logical/rational (ignoring whose pockets the money eventually winds up in) to do this, because the increased TV ad revenues from having one featured game per night outweighs having to sell tickets on the cheap.

Way more people would be going if they had not already taken the week prior (from Christmas to New Years) off of work.