Ticket sales for this year’s Fiesta Bowl far exceeded those from last year’s Orange Bowl, echoing the desire of Stanford fans to see Andrew Luck play his last college game, as he led the No. 4 Cardinal against No. 3 Oklahoma State.
“We got the same allotment of tickets — 17,500 — from each bowl,” said Brian Talbott, senior associate director and CFO for Stanford Athletics. “We sold out in less than a week for the Fiesta Bowl, and last year, for the Orange Bowl, we actually did not sell out. Ever.”
Since Stanford sells bowl tickets for the same price that it purchases them, any amount of unsold tickets represents a net cost for the athletic department.
“There is some reimbursement that the conference offers us for unsold tickets,” Talbott said. “So we are able to recover some of the money that way. This year, obviously, we didn’t need to do that since we sold all of the tickets…but we don’t make a profit on [ticket sales for bowl games].”
Talbott said he wasn’t sure why there was such a difference between the amount of tickets sold for these two bowls.
“I would think mostly it’s proximity,” he said. “The Orange Bowl is a lot farther away, and we have a smaller concentration of alum supporters out there. [For] the Fiesta Bowl, some people could even drive.”
The Cardinal fell in the Jan. 2 Fiesta Bowl to Oklahoma State, 41-38 in overtime. Last year, the Cardinal beat Virginia Tech 40-12 in the Orange Bowl in Miami, which is more than 2,000 miles farther from Stanford than Phoenix.
Talbott also inferred that “the assumption that it is Andrew Luck’s last year caused some people to want to see that game,” leading to increased ticket sales in two consecutive years.
“Our season ticket sales went up … more than 50 percent this year as compared to last year,” Talbott said. “Not only were the bowl sales up, but ticket sales in general for our season were up.”
The Fiesta Bowl’s success, however, was not due to a dramatic increase in student ticket purchases. Talbott said that a little fewer than 1,500 students bought tickets out of the 17,500 provided, adding that the bowl tickets went “mostly [to] general supporters: season ticket holders, other interested parties … [and] general fans.”
Overall, Talbott said, “It ended up being about as expensive to go to the Fiesta Bowl as to go to the Orange Bowl. It was a roughly similar experience for us financially.”
Although he said that it was too early to tell, Talbott is optimistic about next year’s season — even with a new quarterback. “We have some [new season ticket] interest in deposits for next year, which is obviously positive,” he said.