Why are SEC fans attending fewer football games?

Is the cost of attending a factor in whether you attend a UGA game? (University of Georgia)

Is the cost of attending a factor in whether you attend a UGA game? (University of Georgia)

In light of the SEC studying attendance at games (with nine of the 14 schools having reported attendance down last season), AL.com conducted an unscientific survey recently, asking why conference fans are attending fewer football games these days.

It drew some interesting results. A whopping 54 percent of the roughly 5,000 peole responding to the survey said they are attending games less frequently than five years ago, which isn’t particularly surprising considering all the empty seats that have been showing up across the conference.

But while my expectation would have been that the leading answer would be fan dissatisfaction with nonconference scheduling (with too many unexciting games against lightweight opposition), the overwhelming reason cited by respondents was the cost. Cost of tickets and donations ranked atop the reasons fans are attending games less frequently, with cost of travel to the game ranked second.

And 83 percent said they believe average fans have been priced out of attending college football games.

In declining order, the other factors cited as reasons for not attending were convenience/enjoyment watching on TV, parking costs/traffic issues, the economic downturn, start time of games, quality of opponents (finally!) and tailgating issues.

We should note, however, that 85 percent of the people responding to this survey named either Alabama or Auburn as their favorite team and the largest portion of responses (39 percent) came from the state of Alabama. Only 13 percent were from Georgia and only 2 percent named Georgia as their favorite team. Not surprising since the survey was conducted by an Alabama-based media site.

If you're attending fewer UGA football games now, what is the primary reason?

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I’m interested in whether cost is the primary reason behind any UGA fans deciding not to attend as many games since I hear many more complaints about the level of competition — i.e., the cupcake games — and the parking situation in Athens than I do the cost. Maybe that’s because Georgia has kept its ticket prices in the bottom half of the SEC.

When you factor in the required donations to the Hartman Fund to buy season tickets, however, the minimum cost per game for UGA fans in 2012 was second highest in the conference.

Put the two factors together and you get the practice I’ve heard several fans espousing: Dropping their season tickets and instead buying the best games on the secondary ticket market via the likes of StubHub. While they might pay over face value for those games, they end up saving money overall because they don’t have to buy the games they don’t want to attend.

It’s a problem throughout the conference, as Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley told CBSSports.com’s Tony Barnhart recently.

“There once was a day when every single seat for every single game would be full,” Foley said. “But those days are gone. If it’s a big SEC game we don’t have a problem. But if it’s not a big game we are concerned.”

Are you attending fewer games in Athens than you used to? And, if so, is cost the primary reason or is it dissatisfaction with the schedule, the overall hassle or some other reason? Share your thoughts in the comments below, vote in our poll, or do both.


Got something you want to discuss concerning the upcoming football season or UGA athletics? Or a question you want the Junkyard Blawg to tackle? Email me at  junkyardblawg@gmail.com.

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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg

83 comments Add your comment

Matt in Smyrna

June 12th, 2013
9:01 am

I finished my second degree in 2011 and don’t have season tickets, so obviously I’m attending less than I did. Having said that, I’ve only been to the Tech games in ‘11 and ‘12, and cost is the primary factor. Saving up to buy a home, so season tickets aren’t really an option, and paying upwards of $100 a ticket for the few truly good games on the schedule doesn’t appeal to me.

I do plan to apply for the Young Alumni program next year, though, when I should have more disposable income and the home schedule (which will include at least Clemson, Auburn, Tennessee, Tech, and potentially a big SEC West opponent) will make it a better bargain for the amount of high quality games you get.

iago's yoda

June 12th, 2013
9:03 am

we (the paying, donating fans) don’t enjoy having the game day experience lessened and being treated like red-headed step-cattle?


June 12th, 2013
9:29 am

Not a season ticket holder. Have only attended a couple games. Can’t attend more due to cost. If you wanna go to a big game it’s going to cost several hundreds of dollars for tickets. Toss in gas money, money to park and eat and so forth. Heck you could easily $500+ of a Saturday.

The only people whose wages are going up are CEO's

June 12th, 2013
9:40 am

“Put the two factors together and you get the practice I’ve heard several fans espousing: Dropping their season tickets and instead buying the best games on the secondary ticket market via the likes of StubHub. While they might pay over face value for those games, they end up saving money overall because they don’t have to buy the games they don’t want to attend.”

Seems quite rational to me. If the new stadium gets built here in Atlanta and the ’seat fees’ for season tickets double, chance are excellent that a lot of Falcons fans will be utilizing this same cost-saving strategy.

Frosty Dawg

June 12th, 2013
9:40 am

Cost and quality of opponents are related. Most people (me included) are willing to pay more for a better product. For me, there’s also the fact that it’s just not as much fun at the stadium as it used to be. Basically, I feel taken advantage of in every way possible at the stadium, as if my only purpose is as an actual or potential consumer. Way too much down time, too many time outs, constant barrage of commercials on the scoreboard. At home, I can avoid the commercials, usually by DVR’g backwards for my own “instant replay,” or by starting my viewing some time in the 2d quarter and fast forwarding. That way, I can keep some sense of the old rhythm of the game that’s less and less possible at the actual game–kinda strange, now that I think about it!

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

June 12th, 2013
9:44 am

It wasnt that long ago that 4 season tickets would cost you 500 bucks and parking was free

Now 4 season tickets cost you a $1300 donation to be able to buy the tickets then the tickets cost an additional $960 and then you pay an additional $200 for parking

Thats right $2460

When you add gas and food you end up spending at least an additional $500

So $3000 for those that have 4 season tickets every year
and around $1700 for those with 2 season tickets

But hey nothing wrong with raising the ticket prices even higher;
We need to continue building that surplus while taking a back seat to everyone else in facility upgrades

and we need to continue raising salaries for the coaches and athletic dept to continue our march to 10 win seasons while sitting at home watching other SEC teams play for championships ;)


June 12th, 2013
9:54 am

The quality of opponents factor cuts both ways. Some people, and for some reason this usually women that I have found, only want to go to a game that features a team that we will probably beat, i.e. Buffalo, etc….


June 12th, 2013
9:55 am

Not a season ticket holder here, but the early start times in September, little to no home games in October which is the best month for CFB weather wise, and the level of competiton for 3 to 4 of the 6 games in Athens put me right smack dab in front of my HD TV.

Tickets 4 Years

June 12th, 2013
10:11 am

not in order: changing start times, traffic, TV time outs, weak schedule, atmosphere becoming more like pro games with piped in music and scoreboard commercials.


June 12th, 2013
10:17 am

The start time of the game dictates whether I use my season tickets or not. Been going to Ga games for 50 years but I won’t go when the game starts after 5pm. A 7 or 8pm starting time means I get home to Atlanta around 1am or later and I can’t do that any more. It is even worse for those who travel farther. Games now last close to 4 hours and they used to be 3 hours easy. And the lure of attending with all the parking hassles now in Athens for my wife and I is lessening. ESPECIALLY for the cupcake games. I am starting to not go to those games now. College football is doing this to itself by letting TV control its times and forgetting us alumni who have paid the bills for all these years.

Sugar Hill Dawg

June 12th, 2013
10:36 am

I gave up my season tickets after the 1990 season – the birth of son # 1 in March 1990 and the pending birth of son # 2 in the fall of 1991 indicated to me it was time to use that $$ for family needs, I was able to take my boys to a game most years, but once fall ball, band, etc. took over that was out. Ironically my oldest son decided to attend Auburn and march in the AUMB, so all of the sudden I was back into the CFB bizz (although on the Plains rather than the Classic City). I enjoyed three of the four UGA – AU games while he was in school (not too thrilled during the Cam Newton game – caught a lot of abuse from the mellophone section in Jordan – Hare that day! Without question the cost to attend is my primary concern, closely followed by the parking situation. I used to park between Park Hall and the Library, but now I can’t seem to get my car onto campus! Its much easier to attend a game in Auburn than Athens – that’s a shame!


June 12th, 2013
10:39 am

Frosty…good point. People will pay more for better games. Take a look at attendance records for “good” games vs the cupcakes.

Stop scheduling the powder puff teams, and start scheduling more quality OOC games, and people will fill the stadium.


June 12th, 2013
10:49 am

Season tickets holder for many years, 39 years and never missed a home game but that’s over due to hassle of going to games. When you have to claim a parking/tailgate spot 6 hours before the game and still have a 1 mile walk to stadium with no restroom in sight its just not worth it. Found a canceled check yesterday for $200 it was my donation check from 1990, same seats I have now that are $500.

bruce mac

June 12th, 2013
10:56 am

Just to be Frank, I love the Bulldawgs but our stadium stinks. It is too far from the field, too big, too concrete, too much gastapo security and no parkng. I hate the bumble bees but love their stadium, they got it going on. Unique design, close to the field, plenty of parking plus Marta. Tuscaloosa is very fan friendly as is Jacksonville and many other venues. Athens is the worst I have ever experienced.

Class of '98

June 12th, 2013
10:59 am

I go to about 4 or 5 games a year. If I had a lush Winnebago with the satellite TV receiver, I would go to more.

I love Athens, and I love my dawgs. It just sucks sitting in Sanford in 90-degree heat watching them destroy a cupcake and then sitting in traffic for 3 hours trying to get back to Atlanta while attempting to find the Florida-Auburn game on the radio.

I understand the value of the cupcake games, both to the athletic department and to the city of Athens, but I gotta be honest and say that I often skip them.

And I am not a season-ticket holder. I’m a scalped-ticket buyer. I know when and where to buy them, and can get tickets for any game at near face value except for the SECCG. No “donation” required.


June 12th, 2013
11:00 am

Have been going to 4 home games a year for about thirty years – cost is higher, crowds are bigger, tailgate is bigger – none of this bothers me; what does bother me is the looong and numerous timeouts.

Games in the 80s seemed to last about 2 1/2 hours – now with the passing and timeouts it takes at least 4 hours – and that is about my breaking point. Frosty is correct – DVR the game and waiting about 45 minutes to start the game on TV is a pretty good way to enjoy any football game.


June 12th, 2013
11:00 am

Try driving 5 hrs one way and chocking on a 2 night minimum bill from the Holiday Inn.Ticket prices. It’s basically a $1000.00 weekend for my gang. We’ll go about as often no matter what, but it’s pretty easy to see how folks that used to go every game are starting to re-think it.

But what’s the big deal? Why don’t people go to the mall as much, or the local tailor? Things chance, habits change. This information is just that. it’s not like the SEC is sitting there confounded as to why folks are taking

Theron Sapp

June 12th, 2013
11:00 am

Pretty much all of the above. But the two biggest factors: 1. Start times — it’s hard to plan a road trip when you have no idea when the event might start. 2. Cupcake opponents — face it, a 12-hour day to watch UGA beat up Northwest Southeast State just isn’t that compelling.

bruce mac

June 12th, 2013
11:02 am

= troll

be less obvious

Sanford is one of the best stadiums in the world.


June 12th, 2013
11:03 am

taking advantage of the new TV contracts, and non-stop internet access to their favorite team.
They put that stuff out there, to attract more fans. Attendance AT games is just one part of it.


June 12th, 2013
11:08 am

I’d have to agree with blazerdawg. Cost is relative, and so is the hassle factor. It’s never going back to….. park on the street and shuck out 25 bucks for a ticket. But if you want to ask what specifically makes the actual game less inviting, its the long and often TV time-outs.

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

June 12th, 2013
11:12 am

bruce mac 10:56am

Give me a break Tech’s stadium is a dump in one of the highest crime areas in the nation

You take a risk just walking around in the area

Hence is one of the reasons Tech is begging people to buy season tickets not to mention you still think 1920’s style football works in todays game


June 12th, 2013
11:26 am

At least it is consistent.. 2nd highest price in the SEC and the highest they can finish is 2nd. All that money and no MNC. There is something wrong with that picture.

Tailgating alienation

June 12th, 2013
11:31 am

Not only are tickets more expensive, but parking is a pain in the rear. I feel like UGA complaints about less attendance, yet it is the first to sell off every parking space anywhere near the stadium. The people that buy the spots are most likely to show up right before kickoff, or sell their tickets. The real tailgaters, get up early to set up camp. Gone are those days, and thus fan interest to actually going to the games is down.

CBS Game of the Week

June 12th, 2013
11:33 am

You used to get only one game a week. Then, the World Wide Leader gained control of the schedule and dictates to the school and AD what time the games would be (noon). Frankly, it’s too early and too hot at that time of day. Now with the SEC TV jumping on board, the ticket prices have soared. Now, for the price of one game ticket, I get over 9 channels of football on Saturday, all season. Scheduling cupcakes has no impact on my attendance. Honestly, I’d rather rip-off 60 pts against a D-II opponent, and walk away feeling the love, than the alternative of getting embarrassed at a “BLACKOUT” game vs. Alabama. Yeah, how soon we forget.


June 12th, 2013
11:35 am

I had season tickets beginning in 1989. Once I transferred to Columbia to teach in gamecock country, it became a hassle to plan appropriately for gameday, parking fiasco, ticket prices way too high, long games, too many time outs, and the fact I could care less about SW Mo St or Slippery Rock tech. I let my season tickets go two years ago. I never miss a game in the comfort of my own den.


June 12th, 2013
11:40 am

When you put the cooler out of the car at 10 min to 7 and the campus cop says put that back in the car, pretty well sums it up. You cant park in front of the colesium but yet the big whigs down stadium drive with campus buses is just fine and they can use their golf carts but not mine. This is one are of tailgatng that may cut me out of attending each week. I think I could afford the other 3 good games. Greg must get on this along with Jimmy Williamson at UGA Police. These young cops are making life miserable, and in a few years I will let them have the extra of the 2.95 Million that goes into Athens for each home game. They say they want input but they really do not…

Gman 84

June 12th, 2013
11:43 am

I live in California and go to a few games a year (one or both weekends around Thanksgiving and maybe another big game a year). Cupcake games are great for taking the kids and I’ll spend money for good seats -going thrugh Stubhub or the Dawgtrade. I go with friends to the rowdy rival games or to Ga Tech (won’t subject the kiddies to the Bee Hive).

I once vowed that I’d never miss the dogs in an SECCG and attended the first 4 (no matter cost or travel involved) but after RT travel across country (cost of 2 seats) and shelling out $600 for a pair of good tickets to the LSU debacle in 2011, I resigned myself to watching the Bama/UGA game on TV (good tickets seemed to be more $$ than ever). Absolutely hated not being there but I could no longer justify the full cost of the trip.

I always LOVE going to Athens but have to admit that if I lived here, the noon cupcake games in the blazing September mid-day heat would be a tough, tough sell. Later games with better tailgating options would help with the heat and motivation.


June 12th, 2013
11:48 am

Old Timer is about right. I don’t go to cupcake games or late games. I do try to make sure my tickets are used. I give them away and usually someone wants them. I go maybe 3 times per year. Have 4 season tickets and have had them many years. My secondary reason for poor attendance is the parking and stadium hassle factor. Tailgating is next to impossible for those of us who have to travel 3 hours to the game.


June 12th, 2013
11:55 am

If you saw my big screen TV and the set up I have in the basement, you would know why

ramble on

June 12th, 2013
12:20 pm

@ Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga. Bobby Dodd stadium is just fine thank you. Been going there for 40 years and never had a problem. What I can’t believe is over 50 percent of SEC schools are reporting downward attendance. It’s the God Almighty SEC! What’s up with that?


June 12th, 2013
12:26 pm

Season ticket holder since 77, have seriously thought about giving up tickets more than once. We still didn’t have enough points to get sec championship tix and our Florida tix stink. We sell ours and buy others on stubhub. With the price of gasoline and traffic situation in Athens, is it really worth it anymore????


June 12th, 2013
12:26 pm

Reasons. Obama………………weak home schedule……………..Obama………………..weak schedule……………Hartman Fund extortion with Athletic Assoc. having 70 mil sitting in bank……………………Obama…………..other priorities with this President in the White house……..
Only SEC team not to have a bumper sticker that say’s…” Honk if you’ve won a National Title”………Obama

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

June 12th, 2013
12:29 pm

ramble on

The SEC stadiums are packed during the big games

The cupcake games are the ones not filling stadiums to capacity and that same holds true for every conference

I mean lets be honest the cupcake games in the SEC still have more fans show up than the ACC’s big games


June 12th, 2013
12:33 pm

Most of my friends who have season tickets also own a business or they are Insurance salesmen or they sale something and use the tickets to entertain their best clients and thus use it as a tax deduction. For me season tickets were always out of the question because I was not sure I could attend the games because I was so busy. The best way for me to watch the Dawg’s were to pay more money than face value for the games I was able to get free for or my family could all get together and go to. The rest were watched on TV or I could listen on the radio, which I do not do very often,now, since Larry is no longer with us.
I was so glad when my financial status changed for the better starting in the late 90’s that I did not start buying season tickets because in 2007 or 2008 when the donation to the Hartman Fund , JUST TO HAVE THE RIGHT TO BUY SEASON TICKETS, went over $12,000 I would have cancelled any future season ticket buying for the principle of the thing. That was ridiculous.
I love UGA because I graduated from there and when my wife retires in a few years we are going to move to Athens but if I want to just give away money my priorities will always be to my 3 kids or a charity like St. Jude or Scottish Rite ahead of UGA. Also I have always held a small grudge for not being able to watch the Georgia – Florida game in Athens every other year or going to Gainesville because Florida was always my second favorite SEC team because my father grew up 60 miles from Gainesville and I became a fan when they were not playing Georgia.


June 12th, 2013
12:41 pm

I went to Arizona in 08 to watch Dawgs as the #1 team in country with TWENTY FIVE THOUSAND other crazy BULLDAWGS. Bought Arizona St. season tickets just to get in. Put out that perception and talent, this will be a mute point. Hitting 6-6 three years ago and hanging on sometimes to beat cupcakes, in spite of the success last year….Is a fine line for unwavering support. Just a fact.


June 12th, 2013
12:42 pm

Flat Tire, No Duh!!! The SEC also has bigger stadiums and schools with higher student populations. They are also more often located in the middle of nowhere and the only thing worth doing within 100 miles is going to the game.

You want a good reason? How’s this:

If you schedule two cupcakes per year out of seven games, you’re convincing fans to pay a higher average price. If you buy $500 season tickets, you’re now at $100 per seat. Believe it or not, sporting events do not have completely inelastic demand. Especially since fans have that wonderful free option at home where they dont have to put up with idiots (all too common in the SEC stadiums) bad food, parking, traffic, no alcohol (in campus stadiums), etc.

As Jim Rome pointed out years ago: “You want to know why attendance is falling? Three words: Ten. Eighty. P.”


June 12th, 2013
12:46 pm

bad schedule, unfreindly atomosphere, cost, and coaching that you don’t know when he won’t show up have sent me from 8 season tickets to 4 this year and likely zero for 2014. Georgia is about the most unfriendly atmosphere in the SEC. Ole MIss, Bama, LSU are way ahead. Look for another underachieve result this year and it looks like Richt recruiting is coming to an end. He’s only Ok with great talent, what will he do without it. I’ll watch on TV.


June 12th, 2013
12:48 pm

When my family and I go to a game my wife and three kids love to watch the game inside the stadium but I have found that the main reason I go to games is because of the overall atmosphere which is magical. I love to hang out on North Campus or the book store and watch the game in the theater at the student Center. I can see a lot more on the big screen. I was spoiled in the 70’s when I went to school in Athens when student tickets put you on the 40 or 50 yard line in the lower desk. Don’t get me wrong , I love our football team but I love Athens , and the UGA campus the most.
Can’t wait for my wife to retire so we can move to Athens. I heard that Senior citizens can audit classes.

go dogs

June 12th, 2013
12:49 pm

Since they took all the available parking around campus away, it is much more of a hassle to go to games at UGA. The cost is high and every game is on t.v. 15 years ago I could park somewhere on campus and walk not too far to get to the stadium, it just isn’t worth the cost and hassle anymore to watch us play some second rate team half the time. If the opponent is worth watching I still go to most games, but not North Texas or Kent State and the likes.

UGA Grad '04

June 12th, 2013
12:56 pm

I’m a season ticket holder and usually attend every home game. I do think that when UGA made pretty much every lot on campus a “permit lot,” it made tailgating more difficult and expensive. Despite there not being much competition verses OOC opponents, the games are still enjoyable to watch b/c they usually open up the playbook.


June 12th, 2013
1:06 pm

mcdaviddawg. Good point. Lot’s of my friends ( in the bulldog club, not sidewalk types) where very alarmed last year when the Dawgs only landed TWO OF THE TOP 15 RANKED players in THIS STATE. TWO. Georgia is and is not a lot of things in football, but in no way a slouch when it comes to football. Finished 4 in one poll last year, 6 in another. That is alarming


June 12th, 2013
1:17 pm

Would not miss a single game in the late 70’s and 80’s for any reason…none!!! Gave up season tickets in the 90’s. Know there were cup cakes on the schedule back then too!!!

Big difference now vs then….

Park where you like VS assigned parking.

Park where you like for $5-$10 max VS $300 to $500 for assigned place.

James Brown/Red Coat Jam Band… VS annoying blaring speakers with Rap Thug and Head Banging music creating an awful atmosphere. Sounds like the Ga Dome

A score board, listening to PA announcer announcing other game scores and visiting with friends during breaks VS a television with commercials… and blaring speakers. I can see commercials at home.

$30 per ticket VS $150 +/- per ticket

2-3 games on TV vs 16 games on TV

Hard tickets for students VS ID scan student tickets.

UGA ticket office VS Stubb Hubb

2-4 TV timeouts per quarter 2-3 games per year VS 6-8 TV timeouts per quarter every game.

Loved the game day experience back in the day… It was an all day event but did not have to deal with all of the regulations and hassels and commercialism that have been imposed. But watching at home is just so much easier now. Thanks for the change!!!GO DAWGS!!!


June 12th, 2013
1:19 pm

I’m no scientist but to me the main reason would be television. Both the quality and quantity of broadcasts make TV an appealing alternative to schlepping up to Athens to see North Texas State.


June 12th, 2013
1:25 pm

Fans are willing to put up with the university imposed hassles for big games. NOT WORTH PUTTING UP with these hassles for the lesser games.

Back before UGA imposed all the hassles with parking, contributions, unfriendly atmosphere, student tickets…there were still cup cakes on the schedule but people still filled it up. Not worth the hassel now. And look at all the people that do come…. Leave early!!! The typical UGA fans, like it or not, like to sit on their hands and watch a game, unlike an LSU, OLD MISS, UT, BAMA, …. list goes on…. that truely has a college atmosphere created by the fans in the stadium.


June 12th, 2013
1:28 pm

Or anybody in my book marvin.. Just so much more pleasent to gather and cheer with a few friends in front of a TV that putting up with that annoying atmosphere in Sanford Stadium and Athens. Not rocket science.. You are dead on.


June 12th, 2013
1:54 pm

This was primarily an Auburn (and some Alabama) poll, correct? Is it a surprise they are concerned about costs? That fan base is paying: Chizik, Tropper, in-house lawyers, politicians, NCAA, consultants, PR firms, spin firms, Cam’s dady and family, ESPN, 5 stars…..and as far as I can tell the only key on their keyboard is the DELETE button…to cover up the money spent on the recruits. Auburn = personal validation on a CFB field. Success appears necessary for their collective self-esteem and much like the ‘across the tracks’ ho with the live in pulp wood alcoholic, money will guarantee envy and respect from the other windowless trailer gypsy neighnors. That is why the Auburn crowd is whining about cost, IMO. Auburn:Scandal::Eggs:Breakfast


June 12th, 2013
2:00 pm

We have been attending UGA games since the 70’s with our family’s season tickets but when my parents passed away, we were not allowed to keep the tickets while still giving the same amount to the Hartman Fund. The athletic department has lost a major connection with long-time supporters like us who would attend every game without regard to the opposing team, we were not fair-weather fans. On a further note, they are doing their best to eliminate the local Bulldog Clubs that Dan McGill and Coach Dooley developed in the 60’s because they want total control of the local meetings and money.

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

June 12th, 2013
2:08 pm


Now now we shouldnt talk about the athletic dept wanting to sit on money while price gouging its fanbase

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

June 12th, 2013
2:16 pm

Look at Nascar

Attendance has been down the last several years

In the current economy people are thinking twice about spending so much to go to a sporting event when its much cheaper and easier to stay home