By Sammie Hill–

Despite the struggling economy, the University of Louisville men’s basketball team totaled $13,887,535 in ticket sales at the KFC Yum! Center for 23 games last season. However, many believe that this high revenue results from expensive ticket prices. The average cost of a student ticket for a men’s basketball game is $35, a high expenditure for many college students.

“Paying for basketball tickets is almost a deterrent,” Tyler Robinson, a freshman mechanical engineering major at U of L said. “If basketball games were free, I’d be much more likely to go to games. I want to support the team, but a lot of the time, I just don’t have the money for a ticket.”

Ticket prices for non-students escalate even more and vary depending on location in the KFC Yum! Center. For example, center court tickets are priced at $29 while first row seats cost $60. The average cost of a suite in the KFC Yum! Center is $85,000 for a year, with variations in price dependent upon the length of the lease, size and location.

Despite grievances about ticket prices, U of L ranked third in the nation last season for attendance, with an average of 21,832 fans present per game. This exemplifies that the men’s basketball program possesses qualities that entice fans to want to attend games despite ticket prices.

In fact, Louisville basketball revenue reportedly exceeded $40 million last season. That figure is greater than the revenue reported by steeped-in-tradition schools such as Duke, who earned $28 million, North Carolina, who earned $19 million and Kentucky, who earned $18 million, according to statistics by U.S. Department of Education. This figure of $40 million is a huge improvement from the $25.9 million earned for the 2009-2010 season, the Cards’ last in Freedom Hall.

“It’s something we don’t brag about but you’ve all seen it. We made $40 million last year,” head coach Rick Pitino said. “I think the next nearest was $29 million. . . and I don’t want to say it’s because of alcohol. Nobody sells alcohol but us, but that’s the reason. We don’t like to brag on that, but we are the thirstiest city in America.”

Kenny Klein, the sports information director for men’s basketball, elaborates on the subject, saying, “We have a tradition-rich, highly successful basketball program. We play an attractive home schedule of non-conference and Big East opponents that our fans enjoy. Three of the four teams that played in the 2011 NCAA Final Four played in the KFC Yum! Center last season. The new arena and its many amenities and downtown location have enhanced the game experience for our fans.”

Attending basketball events at the University of Louisville provides fans with more than the ability to simply view a game; it exposes them to talented teams from around the country, immerses them in a spectacular new facility in the heart of downtown and enables them to be part of a celebrated tradition of excellence.

It appears that high ticket prices, although inconvenient, cannot overpower the appeal of attending games, and the basketball program here at the University of Louisville will continue to thrive so long as its fans embody the pride and loyalty that defines the tradition of Cardinal basketball.

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Illustration by Baylee Pulliam