Rivals.com released a fairly interesting article about ticket prices
in college football. I knew Pitt was near the bottom, but was surprised how far down they were. Out of the BCS schools, Pitt comes in at third from the bottom at $87.00. These prices are for the least expensive season tickets. South Florida was at the very bottom at only $75.00, giving the Big East two of the bottom slots.
Pitt was even lower than some non-BCS schools such as Navy ($145), Louisiana Tech ($130), and East Carolina ($150). Sure, you can make the argument that many schools are the only ticket in town. But that argument doesn't particularly hold water as even schools like Houston ($120) and Buffalo ($108) are more expensive. Heck, just about everyone is more expensive.
Pitt is doing a much better job of selling tickets to games, but the market just isn't there. Pitt would really need to string together several 10-win seasons to start selling out Heinz Field. Just look at the Cincinnati game last year. It represented a chance for Pitt to win the conference and get to a BCS bowl with only two losses. Pitt either didn't sell out that game or sold it out late...I can't remember. Fact is, this is a town that is pro first. Many in the area have time for college teams only when it's convenient. I know plenty of grads in the area that would much rather go to a Steelers game than a Pitt game. Fact of life. Yes, basketball is a tremendous success, but the arena only seats 12,500 and since there's no pro basketball in the area, people don't mind going to those games. The Steelers give local fans their fill of football and that takes priority.
Some schools have ridiculously high qualifying donation levels (i.e. last year it cost a donation of more than $4,000 (that number was a whopping $10,000+ in 2008) just to qualify to purchase season tickets for the Georgia Bulldogs) and still sell out. Factor in that Pitt has thousands of seats requiring no seat donation requirement, many of which they STILL can't sell, and you can get a good idea why there's such a revenue disparity between Pitt and other schools in BCS conferences.