By Michael Smith, Staff Writer
Published Sports Business Journal, January 15, 2018, Page 29
The College Football Playoff’s official hospitality program sold out its inventory for the first time a full week ahead of the Georgia-Alabama championship game.
CFP sales agencies attributed the strong sales to the rabid Bulldogs’ fan base, which bought everything in sight after being named one of the playoff teams on
Dec. 3. The CFP’s ticket and hospitality packages were sold out by kickoff of Georgia’s semifinal game on New Year’s Day, leaving just a handful of suites, which were sold by the end of the Bulldogs’ semifinal win.
By the time Alabama won its semifinal against Clemson later that night, Crimson Tide fans went in search of CFP premium packages, but nothing from the official providers was left. It was a complete sellout.
The CFP allots about 3,000 seats and a portion of the stadium’s suites to the Playoff Premium packages, which range from $1,899 per person to almost $6,000. The CFP contract calls for the host stadium to provide 70 suites or half of all suites, whichever is more. For Mercedes-Benz Stadium, that amounted to 80 suites for the championship, according to Alfred White, senior director of marketing and strategic partnerships.
The presence of a nearby team like Georgia for the championship in Atlanta led to an unprecedented sales surge for the four Playoff Premium sales agencies. Colonnade Group, which is based in Birmingham, Ala., reported record sales of $2.3 million for the championship game, well above its previous best of $1.6 million.
The CFP contracts with Colonnade, PrimeSport, Dallas Fan Fares and Quint-Events to sell premium packages. Each agency operates on a one-year agreement.
The 2019 championship, however, poses a different scenario because of Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif. Given the unlikelihood that a local team will make the championship game, and that Northern California is hardly known as a college football hotbed, premium sales are expected to be a challenge.
One idea floated by a provider is to sell 2019 and 2020 Playoff Premium packages together, which might incentivize buyers who wouldn’t otherwise go to the 2019 championship. The 2020 game will be in New Orleans.
In four CFP championships, only once has a team from west of the Mississippi made it — Marcus Mariota’s Oregon squad in 2015.
The impediment to selling 2019 and 2020 as a package is that the hospitality sales agencies work on one-year contracts.
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