My concern about the new (Naming Rights Available Here) College Football Playoff is anarchy. With a select fraternity of only 64 programs fighting for four semifinal slots, the politics will be underhanded and the cheating rampant. The NCAA enforcement arm is a wet noodle these days, not interested in anything but wrist slaps and wink-wink pardons, and the entire mechanism seems like an unprecedented money grab for ESPN, five power conferences and everyone but the players themselves.
A story I’ve been handed confirms all of that.
It says the cheapest premium seat for the new system’s first national title game, next January at Jerry Jones World, is $1,899. It gives you a seat in the corner of the stadium’s upper reaches — I’ve taken a tour up there, and you will need a high-resolution telescope to see game action — along with a $50 merchandise voucher, a full food menu and three hours of pre-game hospitality. I will assume they aren’t serving Sevruga caviar, Wagyu beef, mattake mushrooms and white alba truffles, but possibly a lukewarm hot dog and all the watered-down beer you can drink.
Eighteen hundred and ninety-nine dollars to watch a bunch of teens and twentysomethings running and tackling. And if you’d like to actually see the game, between the 20-yard lines, they’ll throw in a gift bag and post-game field access for $3,899. Need a hotel for three nights, too? Then you’re up to $5,000 a person.
A seat in a suite, no hotel? Four thousand bucks a seat. And you can’t put a sleeping bag in the suite.
If this is an example of the extreme price-gouging involved, well, shame on the university presidents who approved this farce and double-shame on ESPN for enabling the practices with its $8 billion investment in the CFB. So far, organizers haven’t announced the face-value prices for other seats, only saying 1,000 tickets will be for sale in a lottery. That’s all, 1,000? Doesn’t bode well for 99 percent of Obama’s America, much less college students who might want to see their teams play for a championship.
Of course, this is the future of professional sports. That is no slip — college football is a professional sport, and while players in major programs do receive the perks of expensive scholarships and luxurious facilities, they aren’t getting any of the big pie. These prices undoubtedly will refuel the paying-players argument, not that the kids have any alternative.
Everyone is priced out of the stadium experience except the rich, who generally are the ones bored in the best seats. For the privilege of dealing with the worst stadium traffic in America, an outrageously priced parking pass and the potential of sub-zero temperatures and/or a snowstorm, you can attend the New York City area’s first Super Bowl for no less than $2,000 per ticket, according to estimates this week.
Advice: Invest half that amount in a state-of-the-art TV.
Don’t feed the monster.