September 6, 2017

Fee vs. free: Ticket prices for Louisville home games

By Matt Bradshaw —

Is reasonable to pay $10 for general admission to a college sports game?

Most often this will depend on the type of sport in question. Big hitters like football and men’s basketball will typically have steeper prices. Due to U of L’s success, steep prices are to be expected.

Sports that draw less of a crowd tend to have more affordable tickets. Louisville soccer charges $5 for admission to Dr. Mark and Cindy Lynn Stadium — a more than fair price for a state-of-the-art stadium and flourishing soccer program.

Of the 20 varsity teams at U of L, football, men’s and women’s basketball are the only sports to charge for every game.

“Free general admission doesn’t just encourage higher attendance at home games,” junior Oscar Rodriguez says. “I think it takes the focus away from ticket prices and puts it on the team itself. You’re there to root for them and the fans come together for it.”

Now established as a major college sports town, how long will the majority of Louisville home games remain free?

The U of L Athletic Association board recently approved a $104.5 million budget for the upcoming year, a $8.1 million increase from 2016-17. The board also approved raising men’s basketball tickets by $3 in order to pay a larger arena facility fee to the KFC Yum! Center.

Furthermore, general admission for baseball is no longer free. It will cost $10 to attend a game at Jim Patterson Stadium in the upcoming year.

Is the jump from free to $10 reasonable? Some might say yes, others no.

“I think charging admission to games is reasonable, but in my opinion, $10 is too much to ask a student to pay,” junior Mary Robinson says. “I might have expected a charge of $5 this first year, with a gradual price increase over time.”

Baseball has had such great success in recent years, one could argue that they should have been charging for entry long ago. However, a $10 increase from one year to the next is undeniably steep. It now costs more to attend a Louisville baseball game than a minor league Louisville Bats game.

Additionally, it is worth comparing the $10 entry free to other college baseball programs and their ticket prices. LSU, Vanderbilt, Texas A&M and Texas each charge between $8 to $12 for every home game, depending on whether or not it is a conference game. As programs like these are comparable to Louisville’s in terms of success, $10 general admission into Jim Patterson Stadium does not seem as unfair when standing next to the others.

Then again, the University of Kentucky – our friends down the road in Lexington and Louisville’s own opponents in this past season’s NCAA Super Regional – charges only $5 for general admission to baseball home games.

Whatever the case, Louisville has an extremely faithful college sports fan base. Whether it be football on a Saturday night, soccer on a weeknight, or volleyball on a Sunday, you can always catch Cardinal fans young and old on the sidelines. Ticket prices may not be a hindering factor for them, but only time will tell.

You can follow Matt Bradshaw on Twitter @bradmatt8.

File photo / The Louisville Cardinal

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