Friday, September 10, 2010

How greed ruined the MSU-Florida Atlantic game

Let's start with a pretty blanket statement and work from there, shall we?

There is no reason MSU should draw a piss-ant 25,000 fans to a game anywhere in Michigan, much less Ford Field in Detroit. Yes, I know it's Florida Atlantic. I get that. But this game should have sold out.

Here's the theory: Spartan Stadium seats 75,005. Ford Field seats 65,000. Detroit likely has more MSU alums within an hour's drive than East Lansing does. Even allowing for the fact that this is "out of the norm" so people have to go "out of their way" to see the game, one would figure that attrition to hit no more than 10,005 fans, right?

Instead, as of right now a scant 25,000 tickets have been sold. It might be a joke if this wasn't so egg-on-face embarrassing.

So what happened?

Well, the game was priced wrong and sold wrong. And as your mother always told you, two wrongs don't make a right.

Let's look at the regular ticket prices for a moment:

On FAU's end: Individual game tickets at Lockhart Stadium in Fort Lauderdale sell at a range from $12-25 a pop. There's a slight discount on for season ticket holders that can take the best seats down below $21 a game.

On MSU's end: Regular games are sold at $49 a pop, aside from Notre Dame this year which is going for $75 a seat. Full-price public season tickets include seven home games for about $44 a game.

Sideline seats for MSU-FAU started at $79 each.

Yes, that's right, some marketing genius decided that Joey Spartan would rather pay MORE MONEY to see his alma mater play FLORIDA ATLANTIC than NOTRE DAME.

Folks, that's nothing short of greed.

Here's why. Lockhart Stadium seats 20,450 when full (which it rarely is). Ford Field, as I mentioned above, seats 65,000. If this game were at FAU's current stadium AND they charged everyone regular sideline ticket prices with no discount AND it sold out, FAU would take in about $511,000.

That number's high because of my unrealistic caveats, but let's be generous and say that they'd actually take in around $400,000 once you factor in the discounts they're giving.

If they sold out Ford Field at that price, they'd make more than quadruple that amount, or $1,625,000. Even with paying MSU for the road game ($500K?) and covering FAU's travel costs (Maybe $200K), they'd still clear more than double their usual home game amount.

What if they decided to be a little greedy (but still very reasonable) and sell only the good seats at Ford Field at MSU's regular $49 rate for games like Iowa and Wisconsin? Assuming a half and half distribution between sideline and other seats, FAU would then clear $2.4 million for the game.

Now prices have come down. Most reports mention the fact that they're being sold for $19 a pop. Very few mention that there are thousands of tickets being given away for free.

Even still, most guesses are that this game will feature fields of empty seats. In Detroit. For Michigan State football.

For a school that usually gets less than $500,000 for a home game, $2.4 mil should have been plenty. But it wasn't enough. And now, they won't get nearly that.