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A Look at Northwestern's New Season Ticket Pricing

Northwestern put new season tickets on sale Wednesday morning, taking advantage of the attention generated by National Signing Day. With that came details of the new pricing structure, which also applies to existing season ticket holders as they renew their season tickets in the near future.

According to Danny Ecker of Crain’s Chicago Business, sideline seats are being split into three tiers. Last year, all sections between the goal lines cost the same price of $262. A seat at midfield cost the same as one on the goal line. In 2014, seats between the goal line and the 20 will cost $249, a drop of $13. Those between the 20 and 40 will cost $274, an increase of $12. Midfield seats between the 40 yard lines will now cost $299, an increase of $37, or just over $5 per game.

The other two sections, corner and end zone, will remain much more in line with 2013 pricing. Corner seats will now cost $199, up from $196. End zone seats will cost $159, according to the order page on NUSports.com, up from $152. Both changes amount to $1 or less per game. These are also the sections where many first time season tickets are sold.

This is an interesting tactic following the surprising number of season ticket holders who sold their own seats to Ohio State fans last season, leading to what appeared to be a significantly larger percentage of red on the west side between the 20s than what happened against Nebraska in 2012. It remains to be seen whether season ticket pricing in these seats will affect the decisions of those season ticket holders to sell their seats for the Nebraska game in 2014.

That will likely be determined based on the secondary market, which will be greatly impacted by the Purple Pricing structure, assuming Northwestern decides to do that again. It worked well for the Nebraska game, but it’s unclear whether it was a success for the Michigan game. Despite calling it a sellout, there were clearly unsold tickets, visible both in person during the game and on the website the day prior to kickoff. The increased money they got from the sold tickets may still have led to higher revenue than if they had lowered prices to sell the remaining seats, triggering a refund of that difference to those who had already purchased tickets through Purple Pricing.

Northwestern’s release did promote the existing benefits of being able to purchase additional single game tickets, as well as tickets in the away game and bowl game allotments. It will probably take the ticket office extra time to finalize their plans on how those additional single game tickets will be sold. Last year’s method of imposing limits for the first time did not seem to help much. I would also expect the ticket office to use the ability to purchase tickets to the November game at Notre Dame as a key selling point in outgoing calls to prospective first time season ticket holders.

Saturday’s game against Nebraska

Northwestern basketball is set to host Nebraska, a team that might draw fewer visiting fans than every other Big Ten team aside from Penn State. Despite the noon start on a Saturday, I would have predicted this would be one of the worst attended games at the beginning of the season. Given Northwestern’s chance to improve to a win over .500 against a dreadful road team, however, things are looking better. The 200 level still has several hundred seats available and the 300 level looks to be about half-sold, but that’s fairly decent given the circumstances. There will hopefully be a fair number of walkup sales regardless of potential snowfall. The big question may be the student turnout. A noon start is a fairly ideal time for this type of matchup, since it minimizes interference of studying time and sleep while not impacting Saturday night plans.