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Corn Flakes: Purdue Should Pay Nebraska Fans To Attend

Ticket prices for the Nebraska - Purdue game are low enough that it makes economic sense for Purdue's athletic department to buy tickets and give them away to Husker fans.

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The original plan before the season started was to attend the Purdue game. That was before the heart attack and the 3-5 season; now I'll be watching it from the comfort of my home while sharing time with all (ALL) of you on the game thread this Saturday.

I was going to meet friends, most of which committed crimes with me while at UNL. When we originally looked at tickets costs through Purdue were $119 for an end zone season ticket or $98 through a "Value Pack" purchase. At least those are what were in my notes.

I jokingly proposed to a friend that "Purdue should pay us to attend" on the idea that the economy of West Lafayette would benefit more from Nebraska fans attending than it would if we did not and therefore, Purdue should increase the incentive by providing free tickets to Nebraska fans. (This of course is fallacy because of the politics of the situation - the Purdue Athletic Department doesn't really care what happens to the economy of West Lafayette.)

I did some investigation. Turns out, most studies show that sports don't heavily impact local economies as much as we'd like to think. Turns out, most of those studies are conducted around professional sports and are done by geeky nerdy types who hate sports because they couldn't get a date in high school.*

I found a study done by the College of Holy Cross Department of Economics that focused on collegiate sports. It concluded:

Our analysis from 1970-2004 of 63 metropolitan areas that play host to big-time college football programs finds that neither the number of home games played, the winning percentage of the local team, nor winning a national championship has a discernable impact on either employment or personal income in the cities where the teams play. While successful college football teams may bring fame to their alma mater, fortune appears to be a bit more elusive.

You can tell for certain that this study was done by an economics department because they spelled "discernible" wrong, and that, of course, negates the entire study.

The Holy Cross study conflicts heavily with an economic impact study conducted by the University of Nebraska Athletic Department which shows that Husker sports is the only thing keeping the town of Lincoln Nebraska alive.**

More than 1.5 million fans attend Nebraska Athletics home games on an annual basis. Each year approximately 700,000 to 800,000 attend home football games in Memorial Stadium, with attendance varying based on the number of home games scheduled. Off-site fan spending at these games generates substantial revenue for restaurants, hotels, retail stores, and gasoline stations. Much of this spending by fans occurs outside of the stadium or arena and is not captured in department revenue.

There's a lot of information in that study, but what I was looking for was an estimate regarding how much money a fan spends at a game and I found it.

Spending per fan from outside Lincoln:

  • Food $23.26
  • Shopping $9.81
  • Transportation $18.00
  • Recreation $4.12
  • Lodging $12.11
  • Miscellaneous $1.59
  • Gross Total: $68.99

A few things about this. First, if I'm traveling to West Lafayette, I am going to be spending the night there. I'm pretty sure I'm not going to find lodging for $12.11 UNLESS I can split a room with about 15 other guys, which might have happened in college, but is not happening now.

Second, I'm not sure where "beer" would fit into those categories, whether it be under "food" or "recreation", but I'm pretty sure that I (or any other Husker fan worth their salt) would have spent more than $23.26 or $4.12 on it, heavily skewing these numbers higher. Alas, those would have been made up numbers and therefore we can't use them just to make a point even though that's what happens on 98% of internet articles involving numbers.

Third, the gross total of spending was roughly $69, way below the $199 or $98 ticket, at least at the time. Therefore my proposition of Purdue buying Nebraska fan tickets to attend would have been wrong. They would have lost money.

NOW, however, this is no longer the case. Nebraska vs Purdue tickets are $11-$12 on StubHub, meaning that if the Purdue athletic department suddenly decided to announce "FREE TICKETS FOR NEBRASKA FANS", they would bring in a lot more money to their city and to their athletic department (one would assume based on concession contracts, parking, etc) than if they didn't make the offer.

There's still time to do this, people who run Purdue's athletic department! You could attract untold thousands of Husker fans and improve your economy!!! There's still time for me to get in my car, drive to West Lafayette and attend a game!!!!


**Perhaps a slight exaggeration.


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