B1G to tweak title game ticket sales strategy

CHICAGO -- When the Big Ten put 20,000 general public tickets on sale for the inaugural football title game in late July, they were gone within two hours.

But many of those tickets -- bought by fans whose teams didn't qualify for the game in Indianapolis -- reappeared on websites like Stubhub.com days before the game, creating a soft secondary market. Some tickets were priced as low as $9 right before the game.

Although the game sold out, there were several thousand empty seats at Lucas Oil Stadium when Wisconsin played Michigan State.

"You don't want to sell 20,000 tickets in two hours and find out that 10,000 or 8,000 of those were washing around in the secondary market leading up to the game," Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said Wednesday. "So the game was sold out, but the tickets that were out there were not efficiently distributed."

The Big Ten will explore new ticket-sales technology to fix the situation going forward. One proposal is to have fans buy tickets -- and possibly even rental cars and hotel rooms -- on a conditional basis, where they could be refunded if their team doesn't qualify for the title game.

"You're actually able to sell the same ticket three times," Delany said. "... In the bowl system and in Major League Baseball and in sports generally, the technology is providing opportunities for more efficiently moving tickets into people's hands and into event operators."

Delany said most elements of the inaugural league title game were a big success, including the fan fest and the television production, but the ticket-sales piece will be improved going forward.