Will Vols Season Tickets Put Us Into Debt?

by Kevin on July 13, 2008

My wife is incredible. This is a woman that several years ago knew nothing about football. She didn’t know the penalties, the plays, or anything like that. She’s a loving woman, and I’m a lucky man, because she would still watch football games with me on the weekends.

Over time she started picking up on things here and there. Then this past year she surprised me by buying, “Get Your Own Damn Beer, I’m Watching the Game!: A Woman’s Guide to Loving Pro Football” — a book by Holly Robinson Peete (actress) who is married to an NFL player. Obviously written from a woman’s perspective, the book aims to educate the reader on football in general.

Like I said, my wife is incredible and she’s learning a lot about football. (And I’ll be glad to explain the differences between the NFL and college football!)

She’s taken it a step further

Tennessee Volunteers

Last week she told me she had planned to surprise me with a trip to a University of Tennessee Vols football game. For the uninformed, I am an absolutely huge fan of the Vols as I grew up in east Tennessee. She wanted to take me to the Alabama game since we live in Alabama, they beat us last year, and we get a lot of crap about it.

Unfortunately, she is still learning the difficulties of getting tickets for such a big event like a huge rivalry game (and I am as well).

Tickets for season ticket holders went on sale March 1st, and to the general public on June 9th. I’m not sure if they even listed the Florida and Alabama games to the public. Either way, those tickets are long gone and no longer available from the University. We could buy tickets to one of the lesser known games (UAB, Wyoming, etc.), but even then the ones available through the University are in the top of the upper level, toward the back. Nosebleed section.

What to do?

We have three options for tickets to the UT/UA game

Our goal is to go to the game against Alabama. We have two options:

  1. buy tickets from someone else (season ticket holder, online)
  2. drive up for the game and hope the scalpers have real tickets at a reasonable price
  3. buy season tickets

Option 1 is risky as you don’t know who you are buying from. Additionally the prices can be sky high. E-Bay feedback only goes so far in making me feel “okay” about buying tickets online. The prices we are seeing range from $200 to $400 for a set of decent tickets. Ouch.

Option 2 is not really an option. The drive to Knoxville is about 5 hours one way for us. I’m not going to burn $85 in gas round trip on the hopes that we can find decent (real not fake) tickets at a decent price from someone on the street.

Option 3 is to buy season tickets. However, there are two types of season tickets — renewable and non-renewable. Renewable tickets mean you donate a minimum of $500 to the Volunteer Athletic Scholarship Fund (plus cost of tickets) and you are going to get the same seats next year, the year after, and the year after…

Non-renewable, as you might expect, are the opposite. You donate a lesser amount ($250), get tickets to all 7 home games ($630 per pair), but don’t get to keep your seats next year.

Is $880 for non-renewable seats worth it?

It depends on your perspective. We are not in debt. We are cash flow positive every month. This is a treat for both of us. This is where the personal finance mentality kicks in. If we were in debt (other than our mortgage) we would not be going to any football games. We would be paying off debt. But I’m a big believer in the phrase “don’t forget to live”, and this is a big treat. You always hear there is nothing like being at your team’s stadium when they play a big rival. I plan to experience it at least once.

Yet $880 is a lot of money for tickets to 7 games. We definitely wouldn’t go to seven home games. Again, our goal is to go to one game: Alabama. So why buy 7 games to really go to 1?

As always, I’m looking for any way to make this as cheap of an option as possible. I want to go to the game, but I really don’t think we’re going to spend $300 on tickets to do so. If we can buy tickets to 7 games and sell six of them (including one other big game: Florida) we might be able to not only go to the game very inexpensively — but we might turn a profit!

I’m not counting on turning a profit, but I think we can get “our cost” for Alabama tickets really low — like $50 total. Compared to $300 or $400 buying them from someone else that seems like a fantastic deal.

We’re doing our research on eBay

eBay is a great research tool. I am currently watching one seller who is selling 7 sets of tickets in individual auctions (one auction per game). We’ll see what the price comes out to be as the auctions end tomorrow. Granted, we shouldn’t make our purchase decision off of one set of tickets being sold… but it would be a baseline. If they all go over face value we are definitely “in” for season tickets.

I’ll keep you all updated. And sometime this coming week I’m going to talk about the cost of sporting events. I don’t think you’ll want to miss it!

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July 14, 2008 at 8:47 am


Blake July 13, 2008 at 10:54 am

I don’t think the first option you list is necessarily that risky if you go through a reputable broker between buyer and seller. I’d check out StubHub if you haven’t already. No idea what prices will be like, but SH guarantees all ticket sales.

I’ve only used them once (bought some Rockies tix for a game later this summer), but it couldn’t have been easier.

Blake July 13, 2008 at 10:58 am

Ah, forgot to mention. I’ve heard of a decent number of people making money off of season tickets. Depending on what the team does during the year (if they tank, you might have trouble dumping tickets), it would be an awesomely insane way to make money.

The only bummer is, you gotta sell the tix to the biggest games pretty much. Oh well, in your case specifically, every SEC game is big.

Blake July 13, 2008 at 11:08 am

Oh, and I’m jealous of you for several reasons.

1. Your wife enjoys football. Wow! Consider yourself lucky!
2. I can’t imagine going to a game at Neyland. That would be so sweet (almost as sweet as a game at the Swamp) 🙂

Ok, I’m done commenting for now. haha

Livingalmostlarge July 13, 2008 at 11:15 am

I bought a seat for my DH last year to his favorite team. I got it from someone face value for the season tickets. At least with football there are a limited number of games, but with hockey/baseball depending on the team it can be hard to dump.

Sara at On Simplicity July 13, 2008 at 3:18 pm

One of my husband’s proudest moments was the first time I yelled “Offsides!” before the ref called it. Like your wife, I’m learning. The more I learn, the more interesting it gets.

Scott @ The Passive Dad July 14, 2008 at 2:01 am

You could try Stubhub or craigslist for tickets. You might find a season ticket holder that can’t make the game. If you do choose ebay, pick a reputable seller with lot’s of feedback.

I personally wouldn’t risk driving all that way and find a scalper who has poor seats. You want to look forward to the big game and enjoy your entire day. I wouldn’t add the stress of finding good seats till the last minute. I would spend the extra amount and remember this game for the rest of your life.

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