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Ballin’ with a budget

By SYDNEY RHODES

The city of Tampa offers many sporting events and games, catering to the public with various professional sports venues and stadiums. These games can be fun and exciting attractions for sports fans, but their accessibility to college students on tight budgets is questionable.

“I’ve attended a Spring Training game for the Phillies, a Rays game at Tropicana Field, Lightning hockey games and Buccaneers games too,” said Aislinn Sroczynski, student class president at UT. “Obviously Lightning games are the best. They are in walking distance from campus and we have the best team in the NHL here in Tampa.”

In the 2015 football season, the average Buccaneers ticket cost $71. That price jumped in 2016 to $106. In the most recent 2017 season, the average regular season NHL ticket was $154 and the lowest was $50.

“I sold Bucs tickets for a sports management class. It was challenging because the Bucs weren’t very good and not many students wanted to use $50 just for a ticket to a game,”  said Kevin Ruffee, a senior sports management major at UT.

Brendan Kane, freshman accounting major, thinks that the Bucs tickets are fairly priced based on the team’s performance this season.

This can be a significantly large purchase for a student. UT students speak about not having a university football team to support, so most fans will want to attend Buccaneers games to watch football. This can be more difficult to do so without a free student ticket that division II school students typically receive at a school with a football team.

As a student, Ruffee struggled to go to games his first three years here. After getting a job, the extra money has given him more opportunities to attend.

“Buccaneers are my favorite team to see in Tampa because I like football the best,” said Kane. “But as a student on a budget, it was definitely hard to go to the games due to the cost of an Uber and ticket. In the end I was able to do it even though it costs a decent amount for students.”

Tampa’s MLB team, the Rays, don’t seem to be as popular to the students of UT. Tropicana Field is in Saint Petersburg, about 25 miles from campus, and can be an expensive commute for students, especially those on a budget.

However, the Tampa Bay Rays announced on Feb. 9 that they would relocate the Rays from Tropicana Field to a yet-to-be-constructed stadium in Ybor City in downtown Tampa. This will create easy access to games and sporting events for students in the future, as Ybor is just through the city from campus.

George M. Steinbrenner Field, where the New York Yankees host their spring training, is known for its fair pricing as well as easy accessibility from the UT’s campus, less than a five mile drive away. Tickets throughout the spring season vary in price depending on what teams are playing. The average cost of a game is $45, but tickets can get as low as $10 for the standing only section.

“I do my best to attend games as a student and usually do once every two months, but Phillies games in the spring are by far the cheapest game I like to go to,” said Sroczynski.

In addition, the Tampa Bay Lightning host many student ticket nights and discounts. UT also works with the team to manage student events for Friday night games throughout the season, supplying tickets ranging from $10 to $20. Student rush tickets are typically $25.

“Lightning is the best team in the NHL and the tickets are a hot item,” said Sroczynski. “They also do their best to allow student rush, so students can pay $10 for tickets. Also, on-campus organizations offer tickets to games pretty frequently and sometimes provide transportation so it makes it doable for sure.”

General seating at Amalie Arena has stayed at a consistent price, making no substantial jumps in the last three years. In 2015 the average regular season ticket was $36 for the Lightning. It was $31 in 2016, and $40 in 2017.

With provided transportation from UT, free Downtowners, and the arena being in walking distance from campus, Lightning games are a cost-friendly favorite for UT students.

Kane believes Lightning tickets are fairly priced because of the team’s repeated success deep in the playoffs. Nevertheless, for the average student, professional sports tickets are overpriced.

“Overall, professional tickets aren’t that overpriced in terms of what the going rate for tickets are. Rays tickets are very cheap. Lightning tickets are the most affordable by far and present the best offer,” added Ruffee. “The Bucs tickets are too expensive I think for a college student. I believe they should offer some type of student discount which could help boost attendance a bit.”

With many professional sports teams in the Tampa area and upcoming plans for stadium changes, it can be fairly expensive for UT students to attend these games or events. Many students are on a budget and aren’t able to participate in as many events as much they would like to, but campus organizations and student ticket deals can make these games more affordable.

Sydney Rhodes can be reached at sydney.rhodes@spartans.ut.edu

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