- Darren Rovell, ESPN.com Sports Business reporter
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Fans who want to attend a Stanford home game this year and don't have season tickets will pay more on the day single-game tickets go on sale than those will pay to buy the same tickets a week later, the school will announce Wednesday.
Dynamic pricing allows teams to capitalize on the demand for their seats, with the idea being to leave less money for the resale business.
While dynamic pricing has taken off in recent years and has slowly moved into the college game, with Michigan announcing its single-game football tickets would be driven by that model this season, Stanford says its idea is something new: predictable dynamic pricing.
Michigan's ticket price could move drastically with the whims of the marketplace, but Stanford's model is predictable because the school will tell fans in advance how ticket prices will change by the day.
When single-game tickets go on sale Aug. 1, games against Notre Dame, Cal and Oregon will be subject to this model devised by Dave Sertich, who manages the athletic department's business strategy and has a background in the financial world.
From Aug. 1-4, Notre Dame tickets will cost $140 apiece; that ticket drops to $125 on Aug. 5, $110 on Aug. 8 and $95 on Aug. 12. Should there be any tickets remaining by Aug. 15, Stanford will sell the seats for what it determines to be market price. Oregon tickets are a bit cheaper. From Aug. 1-4, tickets to that game will cost $115, while every three days after that, the price drops $10 until it hits $85 on Aug. 12 before it reverts to market price.
"We've taken a lot of great care throughout this process to make sure we are not alienating any of our fans," said Kurt Svoboda, director of communications for Stanford's athletic department. "That's why we've made this a predictable model that is extremely transparent."
Svoboda cautions that the school has 1,000 or fewer seats to sell for these marquee games. Stanford has sold out the 33,000 seats it allotted for season tickets, gives another 5,000 to undergraduates and reserves another block of seats for mini plans and group sales.
"The initial price for these games is the mean price on the secondary market," Svoboda said. "We're not trying to gouge anybody."
The $140 starting price for the Stanford-Notre Dame game is cheaper than the price for a single-game ticket to see the Fighting Irish play at Michigan this year, which is expected to start at $195. Michigan also puts its single-game tickets on sale to the general public Aug. 1.
The system rewards fans willing to pay more to get first access to the tickets, which Svoboda says is a sign of the times.
"We recognize that we're a global brand, and even though we have a small alumni base, there's a lot going on that makes it hard to commit to a number of games," Svoboda said. "This type of pricing offers a fan who wants to commit to a big game to commit no matter what."
This is not the first creative ticket innovation to be tested in college sports recently. Last year, Northwestern tried a Dutch auction model for its basketball games. It started selling tickets to a basketball game at top dollar and reduced the price as the game got closer. When the game tipped off, everyone who bought a ticket was rebated so that the total investment matched the price of the cheapest that was paid for a ticket.
Fans who want to attend a Stanford home football game this year and don't have season tickets will pay more to buy single-game tickets on the day they go on sale than fans will pay to buy the same tickets a week later.