NCF Nation: tickets

Alabama FansKevin C. Cox/Getty ImagesAll that winning means Alabama fans -- and SEC fans -- are going to pay big for tickets in 2012.
It's that time of year again, when college football fans who don't have season tickets are looking on secondary ticketing websites to buy seats to the most high-profile matchups.

If you're an Alabama fan, it's going to cost you a pretty penny.

Alabama is playing in three of the five most expensive matchups of the college football season, according to TiqIQ, a secondary ticket market search engine.

The most expensive ticket of the season is, not surprisingly, the rematch of last year's BCS title game between the Crimson Tide and the LSU Tigers. TiqIQ currently lists the average price for a ticket to the Nov. 3 game at $632.71. Alabama's opener versus Michigan at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, comes in at No. 2 on TiqIQ's most expensive games to attend. An average seat to that game is $595.42, though fans can now find a cheaper option, as discount site LivingSocial.com started offering a standing room "ticket" package that includes a hot dog, chips and a soda for $89 last week. More than 2,000 of those tickets have since been purchased. Alabama's Iron Bowl game versus Auburn comes in at No. 5 with an average listing price of $481.66, according to TiqIQ.

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The price to see No. 1 LSU vs. No. 2 Alabama in person is growing alongside the hype for this weekend’s matchup.

The average ticket price of $402 prior to the season is starting to look like a bargain, as fans are now looking at an average of $508 -- a 28% increase.

The cost is even more impressive when compared with ticket prices to the SEC Championship Game, annually college football’s most financially successful conference championship game. A ticket to last year’s game between Auburn and South Carolina went for an average of $460 on StubHub. Games in 2009 and 2008, which pitted Alabama against Florida, went for an average price of $573 and $488.

Glenn Lehrman of StubHub said this week’s matchup has become the highest-demand ticket his company has seen for an Alabama home game. It’s on pace to be the highest-selling college football game of the season and is only trailing the LSU-Oregon season opener. The highest-priced ticket Thursday morning was selling for about $5,000.

The hotel industry in Tuscaloosa is benefitting as well, although surprisingly there were still rooms available as of last week. A search last Thursday on Hotels.com indicated 22 hotels in Tuscaloosa ranging from $40 to $200 for the night of the game, and a search on Travelocity.com showed 20 hotels ranging from $40 to $215. Didn’t buy then? You’re out of luck -- the closest you’ll get now is Birmingham, about 55 miles away.

Media members aren’t faring much better in terms of trying to cover the game. Alabama expects approximately 600 credentialed media members. For an average game, roughly 350 credentials are granted.

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