Many USC Fans Will Pay More in 2017
Matt Barber(follow on twitter @Dixiefriedsport)
Today I did what many Gamecock Football Fans have done over the last few weeks and that is renew my season football tickets. For some this process is an easy decision, but this season there have been some changes in PSL prices that may have some questioning if they'll keep their same seats. Not only that, but when looking at ticket prices for games away from Williams Brice Stadium many fans may choose to not go on the road.
While ticket prices remain the same in 2017 many Gamecock Club Members may notice that the PSL prices have changed this year in many sections. For those of you in the lower level you will pay more in most cases, but for those of you in the upper deck expect to pay less in some areas of the stadium.
2016 PSL Prices
2017 PSL Prices
As you can see on the 2016 and 2017 PSL seating chart's above lower level seating prices will increase in every section with the exception of the student sections. Then in the upper deck sections you can see that Gamecock Season Ticket holders will get a price discount in most sections this year.
I actually don't have any problem with the PSL price changes. Lower level seats are always full and we have seen far too many times in the past few years that the upper level east seats are empty. Making more money off the certain sold out seats in the lower level is smart business and lowering prices in typically empty sections in Williams Brice to hopefully fill them up is a good move. My seats are in section 20 so I'll spend $60 more for each ticket I purchase this year. That's a small price to pay for quality seats in my opinion.
Fact is South Carolina is in the SEC and Gamecock ticket prices still rank below many other SEC schools. It is a true bargain to go to SEC games in Columbia, South Carolina. Fans of programs like Alabama, Tennessee, Texas A&M, and Florida will pay a higher price for their ticket when you factor in club dues, PSLs, and face value for tickets. South Carolina has to keep up in the money game so I'm ok with the PSL changes.
What I'm not ok with is the ridiculous prices listed for the North Carolina State game in Charlotte. This game is a battle of a middle of the pack SEC and a middle of the pack ACC team from if you look at their 2016 records. Neither team is projected to be elite in 2017, but if you look at the asinine ticket prices you wouldn't believe it.
The cheapest ticket available for purchase to Gamecock Club Members is $80.00. This ticket will get you upper level seats. Four other ticket prices exist for this neutral site game at Bank of America Stadium at $245, $200, $135, and $100. How are these prices appealing to anyone to see two average teams play each other off campus at an average NFL Facility?
Personally, I'm tired of the games in Charlotte. I get that Carolina and NC State want to market themselves to recruits in the area, but are you really going to convince a recruit in the Charlotte area to come to your school because you play at Bank of America Stadium twice in a 4-5 year span? I can't imagine that will ever be a huge factor in pulling in a recruit.
I would be ok with South Carolina and NC State playing on campus games against each other like they did in 2008 & 2009, but honestly seeing the Wolfpack in person isn't that appealing. I get that there is a fun history between the two schools. The controversial 1986 game brings back cringe worthy memories for South Carolina and the 87 game where USC held NC State to -13 yards(yes negative) rushing and 36 yards total offense was fun, but the two have only met twice since then. It has been a very competitive rivalry with USC holding a 27-26-4 edge, but I don't think a win over NC State excites any Carolina fan.
These games against Tobacco Road Schools just aren't appealing anymore if they are going to be in Charlotte. Anyone that was at the 2015 UNC-South Carolina game knows there was more Panther Blue in that stadium(empty seats) than UNC Blue. With the ticket prices provided by the Gamecock Club I would imagine you'll see many more empty seats for this game and in 2019 vs the Heels.
I would much rather see South Carolina get a little more creative with its out of conference scheduling. I'm not saying you have to go out and schedule Ohio State, Texas, Southern Cal, or Michigan when the SEC schedule is hard enough. Still, there is no reason you couldn't play some mid tier teams that would be on campus games. Why not play a series against Iowa, Arizona State, Kansas State, Texas Tech, or any other program that is similar to South Carolina in recent success? This assures you a home game against a name school and provides fans with a road trip to a campus you likely will never see if the Gamecocks don't play that school.
Other SEC schools are scheduling this way. Tennessee often times will take road trips out west. Georgia is playing Notre Dame this season. Arkansas just schedule a trip to Colorado State's new stadium in place of a home and home with Michigan. Texas A&M and LSU have had on campus games with PAC 12 schools in the last decade. If they can do it why can't USC
If the Gamecocks don't want to go on the road to play an out of conference game on a campus of a mid tier Power 5 school then just play a Sun Belt, CUSA, or MAC team at home. The schedule in the SEC and playing Clemson is hard enough as it is. It gives you an extra home game and no one will ever look at 8 SEC games plus Clemson as being a cupcake schedule. Replace NC State this year with someone like Troy or ULM and you have 8 home games that fans will attend, but instead you get 7 home games and an over priced game in Charlotte.
It is good to see the University of South Carolina trying to find ways to fill Williams Brice and make more money for the University. Just please find a way to get more interesting out of conference matchups that don't include boring neutral site matchups with teams that do nothing to help the image of Gamecock Football.
@dixiefriedsport on twitter