Ticket Pricing Inquiry and Response

Hey y’all, I am very unaware of what the ticket pricing structure is, and have been wondering why ticket prices are the way they are, for basketball games specifically. So, I went ahead and emailed Payton Phillips in the athletic department! Below is my email, and his response…

"Hi Payton, my name is Ian Webster. I am emailing you in hopes of getting some clarity on why ticket prices are the way they are, for OSU basketball games specifically.

To give some background, I graduated from OSU in the fall of 2004. I am originally from Tulsa, went to Jenks.

I don’t get back to Oklahoma very often, other than to visit my mother, but lately I’ve been wanting to go back to Stillwater, specifically, to watch some of the bball games (my preferred sport). However, it’s hard to justify doing so with ticket prices, especially in the 200 level, being the way they are.

The prices I have seen are $25 being the lowest, to $175 for center court seats in the 200 level (I haven’t see how much courtside ones are, which is irrelevant anyway).

For comparison’s sake, my wife and I live in Memphis. She is a Memphis grad and we occasionally go to some Tigers bball games. Their prices can go from $7-12 in the upper bowl of FedEx Forum, to $45-55 in the lower bowl if they’re available (this season, they sold a bunch of season tickets, so getting tickets in the lower bowl is really difficult unless you go the StubHub route). The upper bowl of GIA is getting really close to the lower one of FedEx Forum, an NBA-level arena, in terms of ticket prices!

My primary question is, how can Ok State expect to fill Gallagher Iba up when the prices are like that? $125 for the 200 level is absurd. People can go see the Thunder for the same price and get decent seats. Someone once mentioned to me the Ok State price includes a donation to the university (please confirm if this is true)? If that’s the case, why is that? Maybe some people just want to go see a game without making a donation (which is perfectly fine, they shouldn’t feel compelled to do so). I simply feel like this is keeping a lot of people away, who would otherwise go (because, as we all know, there are many other costs associated with driving to Stillwater, parking…taking kids even…possibly eating at Eskimo Joe’s…etc.).

Really, I’m reaching out in order for you or anyone else to dispel preconceived myths/notions, so that I do not have any wrong ideas.

I hope to hear your thoughts. Have a good week and Go Pokes!"

Payton’s response:

"Hi Ian,

Thank you for your note and hope you had a great Thanksgiving! Happy to clarify.

Our entry level single game ticket prices are currently $5 for most non-conference games. They go up from there in proportion to the price of season tickets in each location and the value of each game (opponent, tipoff time, day of week, etc.). As we are nearly sold out through season ticket sales in the most appealing 200 level sections, we feel we are likely priced appropriately in most of those sections.

That said, about 3 months ago we implemented the use of business analytics in our decision-making. As we speak, we are using all-new data-based methods to identify the fair market value of our season and single game football and men’s basketball tickets and will use that info to reprice our tickets next season. If the data recommend big changes in certain areas of the venue, we will heavily consider them. Meanwhile, we are reimagining our gameday experience to add value so we can fill our venues while maintaining the revenue we need to support our student-athletes across 16 sports.

Only season tickets have a “required donation” attached to them, but it is not forced charity and it is not an added cost. That is actually done to benefit the fan. Until the 2018 tax law was implemented, 80% of donations related to seating were tax deductible. So, most college athletics departments made a high portion of the market value of the season ticket a “donation” so fans could take advantage of that deduction. For example, our 50 yard line football season tickets are nearly sold out at $1,360/ticket. One upper corner section is 70% sold at $400/season ticket. Every section has a “ticket price” of $250 for the season. The rest of the cost, which reflects the true value of the ticket based on seat location, is a “donation.” Under the new tax law, we have kept this model to continue giving donor ranks and benefits to those that only “donate” via season tickets.

We believe the special program Coach Boynton is building – along with data-based pricing and an enhanced in-game atmosphere – are aligning at the perfect moment for a new prime era of Cowboy basketball. There is no better person in the business than Coach Boynton, so we are working hard to fill Gallagher-Iba for him and his team!

Thanks again for the email. Hope to see you in Stillwater soon and Go Pokes!