UK hopes men’s basketball ticket price increase compels more students to attend

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If students must invest more in men’s basketball tickets, perhaps they will be more motivated to attend Kentucky home games.

That’s a reason cited for UK’s announcement Monday that it will double the price students must pay for tickets next season.

“We want to make sure that when our students, when they make the decision to buy, that it is an intentional decision,” said Guy Ramsey, the Director of Strategic Communication for UK Athletics. “That they’re going to plan to come to the games.”

UK students have been paying $5 per ticket for home games. The price will increase to $10 next season. It is the first price increase for UK student tickets since the late 1990s, Ramsey said.

UK also announced a $5 price increase per game for all season tickets next season. It will be the first price increase for non-student tickets in two seasons, UK said in a news release.

Non-student season tickets cost $950 for upper level seats, and $1,140 for lower level seats last season, when UK played 19 games. With 20 games in the 2017-18 season, the price will be $1,100 for an upper- and $1,300 for a lower-level seat.

The K Fund donation required to buy tickets for select seats will not change, UK said.

Season-ticket holders can expect an email with instructions for how to renew for next season, UK said. Renewals can be made online at Paper invoices will be mailed early next month. The deadline for renewal is Sept. 1.

Four- and five-month payment plans are available to fans who renew online, UK said. Fans who renew by Aug. 4 will receive two complimentary tickets to a select 2017 Kentucky football home game, plus five bonus K Fund points, UK said. A renewal by Aug. 18 brings five bonus K Fund points.

Student sections are the first place to look for empty seats at Kentucky home games. When asked why UK Athletics believed students do not attend home games in greater numbers, Ramsey said, “There’s just a lot of things competing for the attention of our students, a lot of entertainment sources, and we’re just one of them.

“So we’re constantly trying to find the best way to make our product appealing and make coming to Rupp Arena a cool and fun thing to do.”

As a perennial national contender, Kentucky basketball is a top-drawer athletics attraction. Or as Ramsey put it, “Kentucky basketball, it’s quite a thing.”

Next season’s home schedule, in addition to Southeastern Conference games, will see Virginia Tech and Louisville come to Rupp Arena.

Kentucky’s college basketball peers previously have charged their students slightly more for game tickets. Assuming there are no changes elsewhere, the peers will charge slightly less next season.

Louisville students paid $210 for season tickets that gained admission to 17 men’s basketball and six football games. That figures out to about $9 per ticket per game.

Kansas and UCLA had similar season-ticket packages for students. Kansas students could pay $210 for 20 basketball and seven football games (about $5.75 per game) or pay $10 for any individual game. UCLA’s “The Den Sports Pass” cost $169 (about $7.35 per game in football and basketball last season).

Duke and North Carolina do not charge for student tickets. But North Carolina students do pay an athletics fee of $279.

Ramsey cited rising costs — “across the board” — as a reason Kentucky students and non-students will pay more for tickets next season.

The increase in ticket prices comes at a time of rising revenue payouts from the Southeastern Conference. League schools received a record $31.2 million each in 2015. The payout to schools last year ranged from $41.9 to $39.1 million.

The SEC is not expected to announce the payout from the 2016-17 school year until February. The league’s fiscal year does not end until late August, spokesperson Craig Pinkerton said.