As noted in this article that appeared in Tuesday’s edition of The Gazette, Air Force has raised prices for football season tickets.
There were across-the-board price increases, and most ticket prices went up about five percent. Such increases are immediately understandable. The academy had not raised prices in three years, and many sections had not seen an increase in five years. Plus, Air Force is coming off a surprisingly successful 9-4 campaign and wants to capitalize on that momentum.
But the premium seats at Falcon Stadium – four sections near the 50-yard line – were raised about 56 percent. And that increase shocked – if not angered – some season-ticket holders, some of whom expressed their displeasure to The Gazette.
The academy, however, had reasons for the increase, said Chris Peludat, Air Force’s assistant athletic director for tickets and marketing. And it was not given the opportunity to explain those reasons in the aforementioned article. It is given that opportunity here.
Peludat said that while the prices for 50-yard line seats increased by $100 ($175 to $275), there is $65 in value added to those seats. The academy is installing cushioned seat backs in those sections (a $35 value, Peludat said) and each individual game ticket for those seats will include $5 of stored value that can be used at concessions stands like a debit card for that particular game.
“So it wasn’t just a $100 increase and they’re getting nothing for it,” Peludat said.
And while the increase was dramatic, Air Force’s tickets still are among the lowest in the Mountain West Conference and are roughly commensurate to those at Army and Navy.
If Air Force season ticket holders are members of the Blue and Silver Club, they receive a 15 percent discount on tickets (up to four). Factoring in that discount makes Air Force’s season tickets (around the 50-yard line) the lowest in the league.
(Note: The base prices for season tickets in premium areas are lower at some other schools, but those schools require minimum donations as well. For instance, according to academy research, Wyoming season tickets near the 50 are $168 but require a $500 per-seat donation.)
“We think our prices are very fair and in line with what other schools are charging, what Army and Navy are charging, plus ours include benefits,” Peludat said. “Nobody’s giving you $5 per game to spend. The seat-back is nice, not every school has that. We’re bringing things in to try to make those sections nicer, and there’s cost associated with that. We did raise the price, but we’re giving 65 percent of that increase back to our fans. Some like that and some don’t.”
While Air Force premium tickets still are affordable in relation to other conference schools, it was the dramatic increase that might have caught fans off guard. Peludat understood that sentiment.
“It probably would have gone over easier, especially in the center section, if we had increased prices incrementally each year,” he said. “It might have been easier to swallow.”
So what’s the increase’s bottom-line effect on season ticket sales? While Peludat acknowledged they’ve received some upset phone calls, he said it’s far too early in the renewal process to tell.
“We don’t keep a tote board, but if we did, it’s been pretty equal as far as complaints versus people buying in,” he said.