Auburn Team News

30 percent of Auburn’s Sugar Bowl tickets went unsold, school lost $2.1 million on trip

Auburn fans
Shanna Lockwood/USA TODAY Sports

Losing more than $2 million on the Sugar Bowl? Selling barely two-thirds of its ticket allotment? That’s the surprising story for Auburn.

The Tigers fell far short of selling out their ticket allotment and paid big bucks for the January game in New Orleans, reported.

Of their 15,500 tickets allotted for the game in New Orleans, Auburn sold 10,871 – about 70 percent. The Tigers had to absorb the cost ($214,510) of 1,340 of those tickets, while the SEC covered the remainder – more than $495,000.

That accounts for part of the school’s financial hit for the bowl: $2,121,811, as reported by That includes more than $150,000 in travel expenses for the delegation of 794 people. Once they got to New Orleans, meals, lodging and per diem expenses ate up another million dollars.

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One caveat: Not every school does its financial books the same, so comparing and contrasting the finances of schools that went to bowls is not an apples vs. apples comparison.

Still, there is no doubt that there were a lot of unsold tickets. Why did Auburn struggle to sell tickets for a bowl that’s traditionally the target for SEC champions — and a drive that’s only about five hours away? The Tigers’ less-than-overwhelming season up to that point likely had a lot to do with it.

Unlike most past Auburn Sugar Bowl teams, last season’s Tigers backed into the Sugar Bowl with an 8-4 record. The team was coming off two losses in its final three regular-season games, against traditional rivals Georgia and Alabama.

If not for the similarly disappointing stretch runs of Florida, LSU, Texas A&M and Tennessee, the Tigers likely wouldn’t have attracted strong consideration from New Orleans – and it showed in the low numbers and diminished enthusiasm in the seats.

Those fans who did show up watched their Tigers lose 35-19 to Oklahoma, a game in which starting quarterback Sean White broke his arm in the first quarter.

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