Students have mixed opinions on free football student tickets


CW / David Gray

Alabama defensive back Jordan Battle during his pregame routine as the Crimson Tide prepares to compete versus UL-Monroe on Sep. 17, 2023 in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Tzali Nislick, Staff Reporter

The University of Alabama sells hundreds of thousands of football tickets every fall to students, their families and everyone in between. Each year, fans are eager to cheer on the Crimson Tide in Bryant-Denny Stadium. Students, many of whom already pay thousands of dollars in tuition, are among those shelling out money for games, raising the debate about whether they should pay for football tickets.  

The University’s student football ticket pricing structure for the 2022 season was $20 for conference games and $15 for non-conference games. The full season student package was $125. This has created some controversy within the school’s student body. 

“I don’t think students should have to pay for tickets,” said Max Wolborsky, a senior majoring in news media. “A lot of other schools don’t make their students pay for tickets, so why should we be any different?” 

University of South Carolina and Vanderbilt University are the only schools in the SEC that provide free football tickets to students. 

Regardless of what other schools’ approaches are, Alabama is unlike most college football programs around the nation. The Crimson Tide has arguably been the best overall team in the Nick Saban era, with more National Championship victories than anyone else during that period. This is why some students are okay with paying to attend football games. 

“We’re the best team in the country, it makes sense why they charge us for football games,” said Andrew Collat, a senior majoring in management. “I’d pay anything to watch us play, as long as I’m there.”  

While it may sound beneficial on the surface, offering free football tickets to students could cause issues on gameday. A first come, first served and general admission strategy could result in crowded lines hours before kickoff, posing a nightmare for stadium staff. It may work for sports played in smaller venues like basketball and baseball, but it would be complicated for a football stadium with a 100,000-person capacity.  

There’s no doubt that Alabama football is a significant source of income for the University and the city of Tuscaloosa. According to its 2022 NCAA financial report, the University generated over $44 million in revenue by its sporting event ticket sales alone. Football assumes a large chunk of that, highlighting the ever-growing demand for a limited number of seats. Perhaps students should consider themselves lucky to be able to watch the Crimson Tide play on Saturdays. 

“Football brings a lot of people to this school and is a huge source of revenue. The University could easily charge normal prices to fans for the student section of seats, but they leave that section for us,” said Caroline Lloyd, a senior majoring in education. “If anything, maybe they could charge a flat rate for all games, instead of charging more for specific ones.”  


School  Conference  2022-23 Enrollment  Stadium Capacity  Student to Capacity Ratio  2022 Student Ticket Cost Per Game 
Alabama  SEC  38,645  101,821  0.3795  $17.86 
Auburn  SEC  31,764  87,451  0.3632  $23.13 
LSU  SEC  37,354  102,321  0.3651  $12 
Tennessee  SEC  33,805  101,915  0.3317  $10 
Ohio State  Big 10  60,540  102,780  0.5890  $34 
Michigan  Big 10  39,021  107,601  0.3626  $27 

*Higher Student to Capacity Ratio = fewer seats available for students   

A flat fee is not uncommon for major college football programs. Alabama and Auburn are the only schools listed above that vary their ticket prices. University of Tennessee, Louisiana State University, The Ohio State University and University of Michigan each charge a consistent price for every home football game, regardless of opponent.  

Alabama students could consider themselves fortunate though, at least compared to those attending Auburn. Auburn students pay more on average per ticket, despite there being slightly more seats in Jordan-Hare Stadium on a per student basis. It is the same case with Michigan at Michigan Stadium. Tennessee and LSU both charge students considerably less to attend football games, but the two programs haven’t enjoyed the same level of sustained success as Alabama. Chalk it up to the price of winning, as Collat alluded to.  

Ohio State is an outlier, given its student body is 36.17% larger than Alabama’s, but its per game student ticket cost is 47.47% higher as well. This is a result of supply and demand, as there are far fewer seats available per student for an Ohio State football game than an Alabama football game.  

There have been no indications that Alabama will change its student football ticket format anytime soon. With the program setting a NCAA record with its 15th consecutive 10-win season in 2022, it has the freedom to do as it pleases. As the saying goes, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”  

Efforts to contact UA Athletics on Feb. 9 for comment on this story were unsuccessful.