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Thursday, August 30, 2012

DOAK CAMPBELL STADIUM - Buying Tickets For Florida State Football Games

Doak Campbell Stadium is a beautifully enclosed brick stadium seating 82,000. The field runs from northwest to southeast - although they label is north and south.

On the north end of the stadium is Bobby Bowden's statue. I am not comfortable with that. I was at the unveiling of the statue - Bobby took time to chat with us about Pennsylvania. Ironically - this statue gave Penn State fans the idea to put up a statue of Joe Paterno. Even God said to not make any graven images of him.

Ever since the Penn State Football Sex Scandal broke loose a year ago - everyone is judging the value of college football. Some people think it has become too professional. Coaches - administrators - and the NCAA are making billions of dollars while the players are slaves - working for a lottery ticket that might get them into the NFL. 

At some colleges - it is almost impossible to buy tickets for the games. People are on waiting lists for years - some even handing down their tickets to family members in their will. It is a pay to play situation. At FSU - if one wants to buy a premium season ticket - they must pay a ransom - anywhere from $300 to $25,000 - just to have a right to buy tickets that now cost anywhere from $45 to $85. 

At places like Notre Dame - Alabama - and Nebraska - where the stadium is filled every game to the brim - this makes individual tickets priceless. The people that have the tickets also have a lot of friends. Even Penn State - suffering from all sorts of NCAA penalties - will fill their 100,000 plus seat stadium - every game - even in the snowy windy night games near the end of the season.

We usually purchase tickets in section 32 - 33- 34. These tickets are owned by boosters that pay lots of money to get them. The seats are also in the shade.

Even parking spaces are given out in a pecking order. You must pay to play - except when we take our scooter. They must pity two senior citizens riding a Vespa scooter because they let us park free in section 2.

It is not like that at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee. It holds 82,000 fans - and there are 7 home games this year. With the exception of Clemson and Florida - FSU has 5 cupcake teams lined up this year. They start out with Murray State and Savannah State plus two other games - every Saturday in September is in comfortable Doak.

A few years ago - the state of Florida passed and open ticket law. Basically - the law says tickets are like currency. They can be bought and sold openly. It allows supply and demand to set the prices and exclusivity. 

We have been going to every FSU game for the last 8 years - we live 2 miles from the stadium. Usually we ride our scooter to the game - sometimes we take our van and have a tailgate party. We leave home between an hour and half hour before kickoff. When we get to the stadium - we have a favorite spot to "shop" for tickets. Simply - I hold 2 fingers in the air - and people try to sell me tickets. I buy for my own consumption and for my guests. I seldom sell tickets. 

Prices vary - but usually we get into each game for $5 to $10 a ticket - $20 if they are really super seats. Last year - when FSU opened the season against Oklahoma - we bought 5 seats for around $100 each. Many things made me buy early and pay extra. First - I had 3 guests flying in from up North. Second - Both teams were ranked in the top 5. Third - all 5 of us wanted to sit together. This is very unusual for me.

Many times - while I am trying to buy tickets - someone will walk up to my wife - Lulu - and give her a pair of tickets free. Some owners of season tickets get upset when you offer them $10 for a ticket that may have cost them $500 when you figure in all the "seat license" fees. They may comment that they will "eat" the ticket before they give it away for $10 to $20. That is their choice. 

Tallahassee sits in "no man's land." It is 5 hours from Atlanta - 3 hours from Jacksonville - 5 hours from Orlando - and 7 hours from New Orleans. Between those cities - there are a lot of trees - not a lot of fans. If you are a loyal fan and do not live in Tallahassee (150,000 people) - you have a long drive home after the game - especially  if FSU loses. That has happened a lot in the last 10 years. Even in the last two years under a new coach - the Noles lost 8 games.

Ticket values go up and down like the Wall Street Stock Exchange. If a team is winning - their stock goes up - and so do ticket prices.

Another factor is One can buy and sell tickets on their computer. Prices vary with the opponent and the Seminoles win-loss record. Even the kickoff time alters the size of the crowd - let alone Florida's finicky weather.

Although the Sport Department will often say a game is sold out - when you get inside there will be tons of empty seats. Some of those tickets are paid for and the fans choose to stay home and watch the game on TV. In September - it can get very very hot in Doak Campbell Stadium. Sometimes - I just don't think they are telling the truth about all tickets being sold. 

Ever since Bobby Bowden was forced out as the coach - it is hard to get my heart into the season. I also mourn for how Joe Paterno was treated - and how the whole state of Pennsylvania is being held hostage for the sex crimes of Jerry Sandusky. Yes - these coaches all make lots of money from this system - and rules need to be changed - but I am too old to do anything about it. So I will see you at the game. Go Noles!

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