Comparing The MAC's Season-Ticket Packages
Big-time college football programs generally don’t talk about season tickets.
Even during this time of year — the black hole of the college football calendar between the spring games and the start of practices — most schools don’t even provide season-ticket options in the ticket sales sections of their websites. The ones that do offer season tickets make it fairly clear that it’s an elite club that isn’t particularly seeking out new members.
It’s a different story for a mid-major conference like the MAC, where pushing season tickets is an offseason priority. The result is a collection of quaint, grass-roots marketing campaigns and arguably some darned good deals for local fans wanting to see live college football this fall.
While there’s some differentiation — most notably by overall program success, community impact, and stadium quality — and some inevitable apples-to-oranges comparisons, all 12 MAC football programs are in the same ballpark in season-ticket packages.
The Zips are one of several MAC schools that play a more rudimentary version of the “donation game” that defines the backstage season-ticket process at larger schools. The highest-level season-ticket package only costs $150, but also requires a minimum $350 donation to Akron’s “Z-Fund.” The median price is much lower, plus Akron is one of just two MAC schools that offer all of its season-ticket holders a season-long parking pass — and for what it’s worth, a Zips pride flag).
Priciest: Club Level: ($1,000: $150 season ticket plus $850 Z-Fund donation)
Middle of the Road: General Public Reserved ($120)
Package Deal: Family Plan: two adult and two youth seats ($240)
The Cardinals offer a much simpler range of options without the donation caveat. In general, their prices are some of the lowest in the conference, but they also don’t offer any bonus features like complimentary parking passes.
Priciest: VIP Chair ($138)
Middle of the Road: Adult General Admission ($66)
Package Deal: Family Four Pack — four general admission seats ($184)
Like Akron, BG does offer free parking for all season-ticket holders in addition to some of the best overall prices in the conference, including the lowest adult single-ticket price ($60). Like a handful of other MAC schools, Bowling Green also distinguishes the quality of the ticket based on whether it’s a seat with a back or simply a spot on a bench.
Priciest: West Side Chairback Reserved ($84)
Middle of the Road: East Side Reserved Chairback or Bench ($60)
Package Deal: Falcon Four Pack four East Side Reserved seats ($168)
As one of the two MAC schools smack-dab in the middle of an NFL market, Buffalo doesn’t put any bells and whistles on its season-ticket machine. One price fits all ($99 per ticket plus a $100 donation) with no special packages. And while that’s is a bit higher than the average MAC price, there’s a little more value since Buffalo is the only MAC team with seven home games in 2014.
CMU is one of the only MAC schools to selectively offer free parking (only to the most expensive season-ticket level) and, like Buffalo, one of the few that doesn’t offer any package deals. On the other hand, it also matches Bowling Green for the least-expensive adult season ticket in the MAC: $60 for a General Admission seat.
Priciest: Club ($170)
Middle of the Road: Adult Reserved ($120)
Cheapest: General Admission ($60)
Eastern Michigan also staples a donation requirement onto its two elite season-ticket offerings and winds up with the priciest option in the entire conference at $1,650 for a seat in the Eagles Pride Suite. EMU, which only hosts five home games this fall, also puts a clear price differentiation between seats with backs and those without ($25 more, plus a $200 donation).
Priciest: Eagles Pride Suite ($150 plus $1,500 donation)
Middle of the Road: Reserved Non-Chairback ($75)
Same Thing With Back Support: Reserved Chairback ($100 plus $200 donation)
At Kent State, the difference between a bench and a seat with a back is $36, but KSU’s overall prices (there are only two) might be the best overall deal in the conference. Even its most expensive option is less than $100, and includes a parking pass, as does its less-expensive option. Perhaps most appealing is that all season-ticket holders also get the exclusive opportunity to buy tickets to the Golden Flashes’ game at Ohio State on Sept. 13.
Priciest: Chairback ($96)
Less Pricey: General Admission ($60)
UMass is in the unique situation of having two home fields this year, with three games at massive Gillette Stadium (also the home of the New England Patriots) and three on campus at the much more intimate, newly refurbished McGuirk Stadium. Season tickets can be bought for all six home games or in three-game packages for each venue, with the price varying by seat location at Gillette, where free parking passes are also offered.
Priciest: Full Six-Game Plan — Putnam Club Seats at Gillette ($160)
Middle of the Road: Full Six-Game Plan — Lower Level at Gillette ($100)
Per Stadium: McGuirk ($50) Gillette ($60/$110) — Lower Level/Putnam Club)
Miami (of Ohio)
Miami also adds a donation requirement to its highest ticket category but is one of the few MAC schools to offer special discounts for senior citizens. Conversely, Miami doesn’t include free parking in any of its packages, and a pass costs an extra $80 (most passes require an additional donation).
Priciest: Chairback Seat ($115 plus $100 donation to Red & White Club)
Middle of the Road: Adult Reserved/Bench ($95)
Package Deal: Family Pack: Two adult and two youth tickets ($160)
Not surprisingly, as the most visible MAC program in recent years, Northern Illinois includes several moving parts to its season-ticket packages. Its highest-priced options require donations of $850 and $1,000, while even its median packages for $110 seats require donations roughly equivalent to the tickets themselves ($75 and $125 donation, depending on location). Also, as the Huskies beef up their non-conference schedule, they’ll play only five home games this year.
Priciest: Skybox ($110 plus $1,000 donation)
Middle of the Road: General Admission (east side-$100, west side-$110)
Same Thing With Back Support: Benchback Seats ($110 plus $75 donation)
The marketing campaign for Bobcats' season tickets proclaims they’re “the best value in college football,” with seats available for as low as $5 per game through the Bobcat Family Package. Individual reserved tickets are $98 apiece, though a new Young Alumni package offers tickets for $60 to anyone who’s graduated from OU within the last four years.
Priciest: Reserved ($98)
Middle of the Road: Bobcat Family Package - two adult and two youth tickets ($119)
Package Deal: Premium Family Pack: Two adult and two youth tickets on press box side ($170)
Season-ticket options are numerous at Toledo, which offers a handful of extra incentives. The one with the most bells and whistles is the Ultimate Fan Plan, which includes $24 in concession vouchers, a $20 Rocket Shop gift card, and a free parking pass. Like Ohio, UT also offers a Recent Alumni Plan ($90) and the Rocket Flex Plan, which includes 12 seat vouchers that can be used over any combination of games (limited to two for the Missouri and Bowling Green games).
Priciest: Sideline Season ($180)
Middle of the Road: Ultimate Fan Plan ($70)
Membership Perks: Varsity T members package ($75)
By contrast, Western Michigan’s options are simple and stand-alone:Three selections based on location, no donations or other frills or requirements attached. Like Northern Illinois, Western will play only five home games in 2014.
Priciest: Premium: ($135)
Middle of the Road: Select ($100)
Cheapest: End Zone ($85)