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How Much For A BCS Playoff?

This post is from guest blogger Jim Zissler:

It may be too early to speculate on whether an eight team college football playoff or a “plus one” (essentially a Final Four) will actually be instituted. But the agreement announced this week by ESPN to take over the BCS for 4 years and $500 million could turn out to be a bargain if any playoff option ultimately does get adopted.

While many, including President-elect Obama, call for larger scale playoff systems, the “plus one” format is option most likely to be installed in the foreseeable future as it satisfies the need for some level of playoff and adds only one additional week of play onto the season.

Ratings and ad revenue would be enormous for the “plus one”, even for a cable channel, but I’m curious how it would affect the fan from a sports travel angle. More specifically, how much would it cost to attend these 2 neutral site playoff games?

To get an idea of what this would cost, I took a look at Alabama and Texas Tech, the top 2 teams in the current BCS standings. I also looked at the 3 BCS bowls in terms of their national championship rotation, generic flight and hotel costs, and the cheapest ticket cost based on the current secondary market prices. While not an exact science, here’s what it looks like:

(Disclaimer: Since I am a Syracuse fan, this is clearly of ZERO concern to me and truly an objective post.)

Alabama:
Fiesta Bowl (Proposed Semifinal):
-Round trip flight from Birmingham to Phoenix: $346 on Continental
-2 nights stay at a 3 star hotel: $199/night
-Cheapest ticket to the Fiesta Bowl: $125 per ticket

BCS National Championship:
-Round trip flight from Birmingham to Ft. Lauderdale: $180 on Delta
-2 nights stay at a 3 star hotel: $299/night
-Cheapest ticket to the BCS National Championship: $600 per ticket
Total: $2,247 per person

Texas Tech:
Rose Bowl (Proposed Semifinal):
-Round trip flight from Lubbock to Los Angeles: $452 on American
-2 nights stay at a 3 star hotel: $149/night
-Cheapest ticket to the Rose Bowl: $350 per ticket

BCS National Championship:
-Round trip flight from Lubbock to Ft. Lauderdale: $466 on American
-2 nights stay at a 3 star hotel: $299/night
-Cheapest ticket to the BCS National Championship: $600 per ticket
Total: $2,764 per person

Another aspect to consider is whether fans of the teams also attend the increasingly important conference championship game (often a berth into BCS games)? Or would they decide to skip the semi-final and bet on attending just the championship?

While it seems like a relative bargain to attend the “Final Four” of college football, it’s inevitable that ticket prices would be significantly higher if and when the BCS committee switches to a playoff system.

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Jim Zissler is vice president of sales and marketing for Inside Sports & Entertainment Group, a leading provider of ticket and travel packages to sports and entertainment events worldwide. He can be reached at jzissler@insideseg.com

Questions? Comments? SportsBiz@cnbc.com

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