For Big Ten championship, even suites are for sale

Call it extreme ticket scalping.

Besides typical ticket holders, some suite owners at Lucas Oil Stadium are angling to cash in on Saturday’s inaugural Big Ten Conference football championship game between the Michigan State University Spartans and University of Wisconsin Badgers.

Fans and alumni sifting through thousands of seats still available on the secondary market might be surprised to stumble across lower-level suites offered at prices ranging from $13,000 to $28,000.

In contrast, some of the cheapest seats can be had for $15 each.

An online search of a half-dozen ticket websites finds a smattering of suites for sale. It’s difficult to determine exactly how many are available because, like tickets, much of the same inventory is shared among many brokerage sites.

As of Thursday morning, Ticket Liquidator, for instance, listed three lower-level suites ranging from $13,572 to $22,423. Whether they’ll fetch those prices now seems unlikely. Two listings on the RazorGator website have been discounted by roughly $2,500 each.

Suite reselling isn’t all that unusual, depending on the event and venue, ticket brokers say. Indianapolis Colts suite owners who are reselling their suites on the open market won’t even have access themselves during the Super Bowl in February. The National Football League occupies many of them to entertain sponsors.

But what stands out to broker Angelo Peduto at Circle City Tickets about the Big Ten game is that demand is soft, even for suites.

“What you’re seeing here is that people are selling them at close to their cost,” he said. “There are some who are still trying to make their money back.”

Colts suite holders get first dibs to watch Saturday’s game from their private rooms by paying anywhere from $4,000 to $10,575. Of the 140 suites available for the game, 11 had not been reserved by their owners as of late Tuesday afternoon, said Greg Hylton, Colts vice president of premium seating and ticket sales.

David Moroknek, president of locally based MainGate Inc., which handles merchandise sales for the Colts and seven other NFL teams, is among the Colts suite owners who have paid extra to watch the Badgers and Spartans.

He’ll be entertaining clients who have a “very strong” interest in attending the game, and he never considered reselling the company suite.

“If they think that’s a better move for them, more power to them,” Moroknek said. “I’m not a big proponent of it.”

The Big Ten receives most of the revenue from initial suite sales. Whether the conference is concerned about the reselling of suites for its first championship game is unclear. A spokesman didn’t respond to questions from IBJ.

Those who didn’t have the cash to spend on a suite but still wanted the VIP treatment might have opted for the $1,000 premium ticket package that included a low-level seat at midfield and access to the stadium’s Club Lounge, in addition to other perks.

Indiana Sports Corp., which sold the tickets for a limited time, declined to divulge how many were taken. Spokesman John Dedman said demand was strong, though.

“We’re very excited about this event and the people coming in from Michigan State and Wisconsin, or people in general,” he said. “Demand has been strong from lower-level suites to the top of the stadium.”

In July, the Big Ten announced that general public tickets for the game sold out in two hours. But Wisconsin did not fill its allotment, returning 2,000 tickets that were made available on Wednesday.

The tickets, available through Ticketmaster, range from $80 to $175. But other tickets that might have been snapped up by Nebraska fans banking on the Cornhuskers making it to the championship now flood the secondary market. And they’re a lot cheaper, much to the chagrin of Peduto at Circle City Tickets.

“It would have been a lot different if you had Nebraska, Ohio State or one of these schools that have this huge [football] tradition,” he lamented.

At least it’s not as bad as what turned out to be a false ad on Craigslist. It described a need for “seat-fillers” for a Saturday night event in downtown Indianapolis who would be paid $75, according to the Chicago Tribune.

“Must tolerate loud noise and crowds,” the ad said. “Must have red or dark green casual clothing to wear. All ages, sexes, races, etc.”

Big Ten spokesman Scott Chipman told the Tribune that the league “is not involved” with the ad and that “the Big Ten is not paying people to go to the game.”

On Wednesday, the conference later tweeted: “Fans, please be aware regarding the Big Ten Football Championship Game, the Big Ten is NOT paying fans to attend.”

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