Notre Dame might not be coming off one of its best football seasons, but the Fighting Irish haven't lost their mystique when it comes to ticket demand for games in South Bend.
Two Notre Dame home football games are among the nation’s hottest college football tickets heading into the 2017 season, according to brokers. Tickets to the Sept. 9 game against the University of Georgia are going for more than any other college game--with the runner-up a distant second. Notre Dame's Oct. 21 game against perennial power USC is demanding $522 per ticket on average, good for No. 6 on the hot list.
On average, fans are paying $1,655 to get tickets on the secondary market to the Notre Dame-Georgia game, according to national ticket broker TickPick.
That’s far more than the second-highest-priced game: the Sept. 2 Alabama vs. Florida State tilt. Those tickets, on average, are selling for $1,027, according to TickPick.
Those are the only two college gridiron contests this season with average ticket prices on the secondary market of more than $1,000.
The third most expensive ticket, according to TickPick, is the Michigan vs. Ohio State game, with an average price of just under $600.
A bit of context: That $600 won’t even get you inside Notre Dame’s stadium for the Georgia game, said Mike Peduto, president of locally based Circle City Tickets.
“The Georgia game is off the hook,” Peduto told IBJ. “At this point, the cheapest ticket is $700. We haven’t seen ticket demand like this for a Notre Dame game in at least five, maybe 10, years.”
Jack Slingland, director of client relations for TickPick, said the secondary market prices for this year’s Georgia game is “comparable to the last few national championship games.”
“I would say this game is one of the most expensive regular season college football games nationally in recent memory,” Slingland told IBJ.
Peduto said he’s seeing some ticket for the game reaching $2,000 or more, although he’s not convinced the market will continue to support that.
The demand, Peduto said, is not being pushed by Notre Dame fans or by a desire to see the $400 million Notre Dame Stadium renovation which includes enhanced seating throughout the stadium, improved Wi-Fi and a massive new video screen and ribbon board.
There's one caveat: The renovation might have affected ticket prices by reducing capacity at the 87-year-old stadium from 80,795 to just more than 78,000. But make no mistake, Bulldog fans are the big spur for the Sept. 9 game.
“We’re getting lots and lots of calls from fans from Georgia and people here who have friends and family coming up from Georgia,” Peduto said. “Notre Dame is still a very big brand name in college football, and a lot of people who have never been there want to see a game in Notre Dame Stadium.
“There’s a huge demand just to be there at this game, to just be a part of it,” Peduto said.
One good thing about the Georgia game for ticket brokers:Because it’s the Irish’s second game of the season, it’s too early for a swoon by either team to hurt ticket prices.
Notre Dame’s Oct. 21 home game against USC is a different story. It’s the seventh game on the schedule, so there’s plenty of time for ticket demand to rise or fall.
Peduto is hopeful despite Notre Dame’s disappointing 2016 season, when the Fighting Irish went 4-8 in coach Brian Kelly’s seventh season.
“If Notre Dame plays well early, demand for that (USC) game could get really strong,” Peduto said.
Tickets for that contest could approach $1,000 if Notre Dame gets hot, Peduto said, but he doesn’t think it will reach the level of the Georgia game—for two primary reasons.
Although it would be an arduous drive, Georgia fans can make it to South Bend by car or bus in a day. And Georgia doesn’t play Notre Dame regularly like USC does.
Bulldog fans, Peduto said, are really itching to see their team square off against the Irish. The schools have met just once before, with then-No. 1 Georgia beating then-No. 7 Notre Dame in the 1981 Sugar Bowl, 17-10, to claim the national title.
Notre Dame is scheduled to play at Georgia in 2019 as part of a two-game contract.
In Sports Illustrated’s 2017 preseason poll, USC is ranked No. 5 and Georgia is No. 16. Notre Dame is not ranked in the top 25, but optimistic fans think they can still win nine games this year.
The other Notre Dame home game with strong momentum on the secondary market might surprise college football fans: the Sept. 30 contest against Miami of Ohio.
“Miami of Ohio fans think this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Peduto said, “and they’re not letting it pass them by.”
The top 10 most expensive college football tickets (on average, according to TickPick) for 2017 are listed below.
1. Notre Dame vs. Georgia: $1,655
2. Alabama vs. Florida State: $1,027
3. Michigan vs. Ohio State: $600
4. Navy vs. Army: $568
5. Georgia vs. Florida: $533
6. Notre Dame vs. USC: $522
7. Texas vs. Oklahoma: $469
8. Auburn vs. Alabama: $465
9. Michigan vs. Michigan State: $425
10. Clemson vs. Auburn: $419