Our hypothesis for this ultra-scientific MZone study is as follows:
Even when paying over face value for the handful of big games in which supply and demand cause StubHub ticket prices to rise, it will still be cheaper - and probably substantially so - to buy one's tickets each week via StubHub
To recap the parameters of our study and what different seats in The Big House cost:
We're assuming two tickets to each game (together) and looking at different seat locations, all of which now require a "preferred seat donations" (aka PSDs). For those not familiar with PSDs, Michigan's website describes them as follows:
The Victors Club Preferred Seat Donation is a part of University of Michigan Athletics overall annual giving program. Currently, three sports have some portion of the season tickets requiring a Preferred Seat Donation -- Football, Men's Basketball Courtside Seats, and Ice Hockey Club Seats. (Note: Courtside and Hockey Club Seats are sold out. You may contact the Victors Club Office to learn more about future availability.)
The color-coded diagram indicates the football preferred seating areas of Michigan Stadium. There are four different annual donation requirements -- Victors ($500 per seat), Valiant ($375 per seat), Maize ($250 per seat) and Blue ($125 per seat). The End Zone donation requirement ($50 per seat) applies to any new season tickets holders in 2005 and beyond.
Cost to Purchase U-M Season Tickets in 2012
Michigan only has 6 homes games this season due to the opener in Dallas against Alabama. And of those six games, all of them have a face value of $75 each - except the MSU game which is $95 per ticket. Thus, one's "face value" ticket cost would be $470 per ticket. But...
The Athletic Department cuts one a break and charges only $390 for season tickets, which works out to $65 per ticket (it's impossible to know how/if they charge differently for the "big" games so we'll have to make it an even $65 each).
Then tack on your "donation" of $50-$500 per seat and your actual cost of one season ticket is $440 in the endzone, $515 in the "Blue" section, $640 in the "Maize" section, $765 in the "Valiant" section and $890 in the "Victors" section. Now double that for a pair of tickets.
Well, this is it. The last home game of the 2012 Michigan season and, thus, the last in this series. First we'll look at Iowa prices then talk about the season as a whole. Note: The ticket prices for this article were gathered on StubHub late Wednesday night. At the time, there were just under 2,900 tickets available for sale.
Season Ticket Price - Endzone Seats:
You, dear season ticket holder, have two seats in the endzone which cost $130 plus $100 for your PSD divided by 6 ($16.67) for a grand total of $146.67.
StubHub Price - Endzone Seats:
We found two in Endzone Section 39, Row 87 for $33/each. Now take on $4.95 for the StubHub "electronic delivery charge" (read: a fancy way to charge you for an email) and $6 bucks for StubHub's service fee.
Season Ticket Endzone Guy - $146.67
StubHub Dude - $77.55
Winner: Mr. StubHub - $69.12
Want better seats? Okay...
Season Ticket Price - Maize Section:
Two tickets in sideline sections 3, 4, 20, 21, 42 or 44 cost you the same $130 as Endzone Guy. But you also had to shell out $500 divided by 6 ($83.33) for a grand total of $213.33 for your chance to watch Michigan take on the Wildcats.
StubHub Price - Maize Section:
Found two in Section 42, Row 62 for $50 each. Same $4.95 "electronic delivery charge" and a service fee of $10 for a total of $114.95.
Maize Section Total:
Season Ticket Maize Guy - $213.33
StubHub Dude - $114.95
Winner: Still Mr. StubHub by $98.38
Now let's live large...
Season Ticket Price - Victors Section
Two tickets in Section 1, right on the 50, only cost you $65 each as part of your season tix. But $1,000 divided by 6 tacks on another $166.67 (yikes!).
StubHub Price - Victors Section Price:
I found two tix in Section 2, Row 82 for $65 each (plus $4.95, plus a service charge of 130).
Victors Section Total:
Season Ticket Victors Guy - $296.67
StubHub Dude - $147.95
Winner: NOT Season Ticket Guy by $148.72
So, what's the bottom line and was our hypothesis correct? First, one caveat to these totals:
We didn't start this series until after the Air Force game and thus don't have exact figures, but a cursory check before that game as we were thinking about a post topic like this revealed something between the UMass and Illinois numbers. Thus, in order to get our season totals we'll factor that in here today and unscientifically pick an amount between UMass and Illinois.
Endzone Seats on StubHub:
UMass - Saved $64.72
Illinois - Saved $31.72
MSU - In the red $155.28
Northwestern - Saved $42.72
Iowa - Saved $69.12
Air Force Guesstimate - Saved $45
Total Endzone StubHub Savings/Loss for the 2012 Season - Savings of $98.12
Maize Seats on StubHub:
UMass - Saved $87.38
Illinois - Saved $43.38
MSU - In the red $176.62
Northwestern - Saved $52.18
Iowa - Saved $98.38
Air Force Guesstimate - Saved $63
Total Maize Section Savings/Loss So Far - Savings of $167.70
Victors Seats on StubHub:
UMass - Saved $165.24
Illinois - Saved $98.12
MSU - In the red $161.48
Northwestern - Saved $117.92
Iowa - Saved $148.72
Air Force Guesstimate - Saved $130
Total Victors Section Savings/Loss So Far - Savings of $498.52 *
For the 2012 season, Michigan fans buying all their tickets on StubHub saved a good chunk of coin over getting season tickets - a chunk of change that got larger the better the seats purchased.
Endzone ticket buyers saved 11%
Maize ticket buyers saved 16%
And Victors ticket buyers saved a whopping 39%
So this completely proves our hypothesis, right? In the words of Lee Corso, not so fast.
As noted, the 2012 Michigan home schedule - how should we put this? - sucked balls. There was only one "must see" game: Michigan State. And as the tally above indicates, that didn't exactly work out in the StubHub purchaser's favor (especially for EndZone guy).
Next year, Michigan has three marquee home games: Notre Dame (for the last time!), Nebraska (revenge) and Ohio State (Urb's first game in The Big House with the Bucks). Thus, one could reasonably expect to pay - and I think this is the correct term - a f*ckload more for those games.
On the flip side, Michigan also has 7 home games instead of this season's 6, which is one more "enh" game in favor of a StubHub purchase. Plus, one of those 7 is Akron. Forget StubHub, Dave Brandon will probably be trying to dump his pair before that game for a stick of gum and half-finished bottle of Coors Light.
My guess is that any StubHub savings will be wiped out next season due to The Big Three games. But, like poker, where one must factor not one night or one week in Vegas but the ups and downs over a much longer period of time, I still believe that, over said long haul, StubHub will be cheaper.
(Ed. Note: the assumption for the Michigan fan in our "study" is that he/she goes to each and every home game. If you don't - if you only want to catch a couple each year, then StubHub is REALLY the way to go (unless you're a big fan of CMU, Akron and Indiana with plans to sell your ND, Nebraska and OSU ducats). Because if you're only going to the "big" games - or the "big" games and a couple others - then selling the rest on StubHub, you're probably going to take a huge bath since you're going to lose big on the "lesser" games in the secondary market.)
One commenter when we first started this series said the reason to purchase season tickets is to support the university. I don't really buy that one. It's not like paying less on StubHub means the athletic department gets less. Somebody has already paid the school full price for the tickets and seat license fees before they hit StubHub. Plus, I'd be very surprised if U-M wasn't getting some sort of piece of all the BS extra StubHub charges for making StubHub the official U-M ticket reseller. So the school is doing fine. Plus, the season ticket wait list is thousands long. Don't worry about Dave Brandon.
Thus, if it's just about the numbers, see above to guide your decision regarding season tickets. And if it's not? Well... Some people enjoy sitting next to the same group of people each season (unless you're seats have you stuck sitting next to "that guy"). Some people like knowing where their seats are each week. And some people just like to say they have season tickets.
So, bottom line - does this "study" prove you should buy season tickets or go the StubHub route?
I think, more than anything, what our little series "proves" is that Dave Brandon and the Michigan athletic department better think long and hard before they keep raising ticket prices and seat "donation" charges. Because they might unwittingly start making the decision for Michigan fans without even realizing it.