Last season UCLA Bruins football tickets averaged $123 one month before the season began. USC Trojan football tickets averaged $192 at that time, $71 more than their crosstown rivals. Prior to the 2012 season, demand for USC tickets was greater than that for UCLA tickets. It took one winning season, a UCLA win against USC, combined with a hot start to the 2013 year to change that. UCLA tickets just prior to the 2013 season averaged $116, $6 more than USC tickets. Now, (2-1) USC tickets for the remaining five home games, including two prime-time matchups against #5 Stanford and #13 UCLA at The Coliseum, are averaging $102, down 17% since the beginning of the season. (2-0) UCLA tickets for the outstanding five home games are averaging $122, 5% more than they had at the end of August for those particular games. UCLA has a much less attractive home schedule this year than USC, and yet tickets at the Rose Bowl are averaging $20 more than tickets at the Coliseum for the remainder of the season. It’s now UCLA Football who has the hottest College Football ticket in Los Angeles this fall.
Coming into last season, there was renewed optimism in Westwood. Mora and his new staff were taking over a talented team in need of a new philosophy and discipline. UCLA fans saw their Bruins begin to reach their potential with three straight wins to begin the season, including the most crucial a 36-30 victory over then #16 Nebraska in the home opener. The 3-0 start had UCLA at #19 in the AP Poll which created buzz not only in Los Angeles but across the nation. Then, highly touted redshirt freshman quarterback Brett Hundley looked like the real deal. He had thrown for 827 yards and 8 touchdowns while completing 67% of his passes in the first three games. Tailback Jonathan Franklin had national writers including him in their Heisman conversation after racking up 541 yards rushing, 121 yards receiving and four touchdowns in three games. If UCLA was a sleeping giant than Mora, Hundley and Franklin were ringing the alarm; at that time, the Bruins ranked second in the nation in total offense. Fast forward to mid-November and the UCLA Bruins defeated rival USC Trojans for the first time since 2006, becoming Pac-12 South Champions for the second year in a row.
Signs that second year head coach Jim Mora has changed the culture of the UCLA football program are already apparent. For one, there are less empty seats at Bruin home games this season. The Bruins play their home games at the historic Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, a stadium with a capacity of more than 90,000. After starting the 2011 season 0-1, the Bruins recorded a total attendance of 42,685 in their home opener against San Jose State. In 2013, the opening game of the season for the Bruins brought 60,562 (up 42%) alumni, students, and fans to the Rose Bowl. UCLA has a history of attracting fans with wins. The last time they were national title contenders in 1998 and started 10-0 behind Heisman candidate Cade McNown, UCLA averaged 73,709 fans at the Rose Bowl. In 2005 expectations were lower; but after they started the year 4-0, they drew 84,811 in a matchup with then #10 California. They averaged 73,242 in their last three home games on their way to a 10-2 finish. UCLA is coming off a 41-21 win over #23 Nebraska; a game the Bruins won after scoring 38 unanswered points. If winning is the cure to the Bruins’ past attendance problems, expect upwards of 75,000 in the Rose Bowl on Saturday for a game that is up over 30% (an avg. of $25 a ticket) in price in the last three weeks. This increase in price is astonishing considering the Bruins will matchup against a 0-3 New Mexico State Aggies Football team.
USC on the other hand seems to be experiencing a different transition than their most hated rivals. The Trojans were the “team of the decade”, a football powerhouse and had more athletes playing in the NFL than any other University. While they too had a coaching change, the 11-time National Champions also had to deal with NCAA imposed sanctions that included a two-year postseason ban and a loss of 30 scholarships over three years. As you can imagine this would greatly affect any program and recruiting. But, despite all the hardships that USC would face, they entered the 2012 season at No.1, favorites to win the National title.
We all know how the story went for Lane Kiffin and the USC Trojans last year. There would be no National title run or any BCS bowl game for that matter. The Trojans would see no “perfect day” on November 17, and the once dominant College Football program would finish 7-5. The 2012 season ended with losses in five of their last six games, including a loss to Georgia Tech in the Hyundai Sun Bowl. Once a favorite to win the Heisman, senior QB Matt Barkley finished his college career with a shoulder injury sitting on the sidelines.
USC is without their star quarterback in 2013; Kiffin played two in that position for the first two games before deciding on Cody Kessler for the job. In the second game of the season, USC recorded a 10-7 loss to an unranked Washington State team. Following that loss, USC ticket prices began to fall on the secondary market. USC vs. Boston College tickets for the next home game were down 21% since the Monday before the season started. A similar trend is taking place for every remaining home game on the USC Trojans football schedule; aside from the UCLA rivalry game to close out the season at home, prices have fallen upwards of 14%. With the “fire Kiffin” chants that rang inside the Coliseum following the WSU loss at home, it’s obvious that interest in the Trojans is falling … with ticket prices.
|Date||Opponenet (7)||Avg. Price (8-26)||Avg. Price (9-17)||∆|
|9/7/2013||Washington State Cougars Football||$83.35||–||–|
|9/14/2013||Boston College Eagles Football||$83.09||–||–|
|9/21/2013||Utah State Aggies Football||$76.60||$51.28||-33.05%|
|10/10/2013||Arizona Wildcats Football||$88.86||$69.42||-21.88%|
|10/26/2013||Utah Utes Football||$95.20||$81.54||-14.35%|
|11/16/2013||Stanford Cardinal Football||$130.71||$106.60||-18.45%|
|11/30/2013||UCLA Bruins Football||$197.35||$197.81||0.23%|
|Date||Opponenet (6)||Avg. Price (8-26)||Avg. Price (9-17)||∆|
|8/31/2013||Nevada Wolf Pack Football||$119.39||–||–|
|9/21/2013||New Mexico State Aggies Football||$81.88||$106.66||30.26%|
|10/12/2013||California Golden Bears Football||$134.81||$141.10||4.66%|
|11/2/2013||Colorado Buffaloes Football||$107.91||$105.60||-2.14%|
|11/15/2013||Washington Huskies Football||$121.10||$125.16||3.35%|
|11/23/2013||Arizona State Sun Devils Football||$131.58||$125.65||-4.50%|
Image Credit (top): Eric Chan