Colleges Outsourcing Football Ticket Sales

April 20, 2011

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By Tom Van Riper, Forbes

First it was merchandise, followed by broadcast rights and sponsorships. Now tickets are the latest revenue generator that college football programs are looking to outsource to third-party consultants.

The college business is starting to hum at Atlanta-based Aspire Group, which has landed Georgia Tech, Rutgers and Colorado as clients to help sell season and group packages for the 2011 season. Aspire Group plans to announce agreements with five more schools in the coming weeks, including a couple of mid-major programs, according to CEO Bernie Mullin. The trend seems to be most acute at state schools, where, in addition to budget-conscious consumers cutting back on sports tickets, tight public budgets are squeezing revenues. “Ticket revenue, donations, and state funding have all been declining,” says Mullin.

Will the trend take hold on a wide scale? It’s too early to say. The true football hotbeds of Ohio State, Texas, Alabama and others didn’t have a lot of trouble selling tickets during the recession. But those schools where football isn’t religion but which still must bear the expense of running major programs – Colorado, Georgia Tech and Rutgers all share their markets with the NFL –  are discovering a need for help. Just as major football schools needed sports consultancies to grasp the inherent value of their colors and logos, some are now turning outside to boost ticket sales. Aspire put a team of 15 on the Georgia Tech sales effort, which also includes Yellow Jacket basketball.

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