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Can A Ticket Price Talk Trash?

Monday, 9 Mar 2009 | 8:59 AM ET

We’ve all heard of bulletin board material. It usually happens when a player or coach on an opposing team says something to insult the team they are going to play.

But today we’re asking if a ticket price could actually qualify as bulletin board material.

You see, the University of Iowa announced their ticket prices for the football season. The Michigan game will cost $70, the Arizona game will cost $65 and all other games will cost $52.

The tension comes in from the fans of my alma mater, Northwestern. Over the last 10 years, the rivalry with the Hawkeyes has grown stronger. The fuel was added to the fire last year when my Wildcats beat the Hawkeyes in Iowa and – despite a better record — were sent to a lesser bowl game because of perceived fan support.

In a strange scheduling quirk, Northwestern will play on the road against Iowa for the second year in a row. And it’s not being perceived as a “premium game.”

The Northwestern game costs just as much as games against Northern Iowa, Arkansas State, Indiana and Minnesota. The supposed slight comes in when you consider the records of the other schools.

Michigan, the most expensive game, was 3-9 last year. The Arizona game costs $13 more than the Northwestern game and the Big Ten’s version of the Wildcats finished the season 9-4 vs. the Pac-10’s version of the Wildcats, which ended up at 8-5.

Only one team that costs the same as the Northwestern game is a FBS team that finished with a winning record (Minnesota, 7-6). Arkansas State was 6-6 and Indiana was 3-9. Northern Iowa, a FCS team, finished the season at 12-3.

The Northwestern football blog, Lake the Posts (link: www.laketheposts.com), calls this obvious bulletin board material and it should be noted that there seems to be concern from the other side. Cedar Rapids Gazette sports columnist Mike Hlas is asking the Iowa athletic department to charge $70 for the Northwestern game and $52 for the Michigan game.

We understand the point, but also understand that this is likely an economic decision based on projected supply and demand. Michigan might have had its worst record in its history, but it still has more fans than Northwestern. The game is also homecoming, which always counts for something.

I can’t really justify the Arizona game other than to say that it’s a high profile non-conference game that could be worth more buzz than playing an opponent in your conference.

Which leaves us with this: If it does qualify as bulletin board material, what will Northwestern head football coach Pat Fitzgerald put up on the bulletin board? A ticket with the price circled?

Questions? Comments? SportsBiz@cnbc.com

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