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A Big Gamble at Auburn

How much money will Auburn fans pay to watch Michael Dyer run at Jordan-Hare Stadium?
How much money will Auburn fans pay to watch Michael Dyer run at Jordan-Hare Stadium?

Expansion at Jordan-Hare Stadium has been a hot topic for several years among Auburn fans. After taking a peek at this year's ticket prices that may not be an issue any longer. Despite having the SEC's highest ticket prices a year ago, school officials seem determined to cash in on its national championship this season.

A quick price check shows seat prices ranging from $50 for small games to a whopping $80 each for home games with Florida and Alabama. Throw in the mandatory Tigers Unlimited donation and suddenly fans are paying almost $100 a game for the privilege of watching Auburn pound Utah State, Florida Atlantic and Samford.

Want to check out games against Miss State and Ole Miss? Those tickets will run you $70 each - before your TUF donation.

The question is, has Auburn has out-flanked its market? Despite having its best season ever, finding tickets to home games last season was hardly a chore. Needing a couple of extra for the Arkansas game, I picked up a pair for $50 an hour before kickoff.

With the combination of a struggling economy, six returning starters and every game televised, school officials are rolling the dice big-time by instituting yet another price increase this year.

While it's near impossible to get information on the number of Auburn season ticket holders, outside signs point to a struggle this year. In recent days, Auburn has taken to the internet and newspapers to advertise available seats.

Sitting at a movie theater this weekend waiting for The Hangover II to start, there was a flashy, 30-second commercial aired urging fans to buy tickets. Admittedly, economics was never my strong subject in college, but it seems this price increase may be poised to backfire.

On a positive note, many other conference schools have not followed Auburn's lead. If you are planning to make the trip to Fayetteville for the Arkansas contest, tickets are available for $55 each or $25 cheaper than they would be if the Razorbacks were visiting Auburn.

According to this season's Tigers Unlimited brochure, a family of four wishing to sit in the nosebleed sections of Jordan-Hare, tickets prices and donations will run $2,740 for seven games. This includes home contests with Utah State, Miss State, Florida Atlantic, Florida, Ole Miss, Samford and Alabama.

Don't want to sit 5,000 feet up? You can upgrade to the Blue Zone or Orange Zone. Blue Zone tickets for a family of four will set you back $3,400. And for the really good seats, if you can get them (and no, you can't), will run you $4,200 including the Tigers Unlimited donation.

Winning national championships don't come cheap. I get it. You simply can't argue with the success of Jay Jacobs and Gene Chizik. Time and time again, Jacobs has proved us all wrong. So I'm inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt with these ticket prices.

Personally, it's hard to justify forking over that kind of money when tickets for the lesser games can likely be had for $20 or less before kickoff. Even if you pay $200 per ticket for Alabama and $100 each for Florida, you are coming out way ahead by simply waiting for game day.

Just two years ago, Auburn had the eighth largest on-campus stadium in America. Today it ranks 12th nationally. My guess is your going to see a lot of empty seats in the upper decks this year. Maybe I'm wrong, but I doubt it. This will likely put expansion talk on-hold indefinitely.

There's no better sight in college football than a full house at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Will that be a thing of the past this year? I sure hope not, but right now it certainly looks that way.