College football’s top-selling tickets: Alabama unseats Michigan

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The defending NCAA champion Alabama Crimson Tide are the top-selling ticket in college football, unseating the Michigan Wolverines from the top spot for the first time in five years.

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Fresh off a 13-1 season that culminated in a tight victory over the Georgia Bulldogs in the national title game, Alabama’s ticket sales for regular-season games have grown 45 percent compared to this time last year, according to data from online ticket retailer StubHub. The Tide kick off their 2018 season as massive favorites in a Sept. 1 clash with the Louisville Cardinals.

“With key rivalries, Auburn and Texas A&M, returning to Bryant Denny Stadium this season, StubHub is seeing extraordinary leading demand from Alabama,” said Jill Krimmel, StubHub’s general manager of NCAA sports and MLB.  “Riding off the excitement of another national championship and these rivalry matchups, it’s understandable that we’re seeing Alabama dethrone Michigan from a five-year-strong lead.”

The Wolverines, who ranked as college football’s most in-demand team every year since 2014, fell to second place this year after a disappointing 8-5 campaign in 2017. The Penn State Nittany Lions rank third in ticket sales, followed by the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and the Georgia Bulldogs.

Demand for Alabama tickets isn’t limited to the team’s home state. The Crimson Tide are the top-selling option in nine states, more than any other program. Led by Coach Nick Saban, Alabama enters the season with a brewing position battle between longtime quarterback Jalen Hurts and sophomore phenom Tua Tagovailoa, who came off the bench to lead the team to victory in last year’s championship.

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This year’s list of top-selling tickets is full of new faces, with just five of the top programs cracking the top 10 for a second straight year. The TCU Horned Frogs saw the biggest spike in interest, with ticket demand up 298 percent year-over-year.

“Similar to the preseason polls, we tend to see a shift every few years on the top-selling teams for a variety of reasons,” Krimmel said. “This could be based on the team’s performance, in the case of Georgia making the National Championship game, or Nebraska fans excited about new coach Scott Frost. In an open marketplace, both on and off-the-field factors can have a big impact on sales, especially with the anticipation surrounding the start of a season.”

Texas outpaced all other states in terms of ticket sales, with residents generating about 50 percent more in ticket sales than their nearest competitor. Out-of-state buyers had a major impact on this year’s early results, with 58 percent of all regular-season sales coming from fans who live more than 120 miles away from the game’s venue.

As for top-selling individual games, the LSU Tigers’ clash with the Miami Hurricanes in the Advocare Classic on Sept. 2 is generating more demand than any other contest, followed by Ohio State’s battle with Penn State on Sept. 28.

Nine of this year’s top 10 most in-demand games include at least one Big Ten or SEC school.

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