Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Ticket scalping grows at UW as enrollment increases, athletic programs excel

Large demand leads to high prices for athletic tickets, despite regulations
Maddox Durst

At the University of Wisconsin, sports are synonymous with intensity — the tailgates, the music and the atmosphere. But the UW sport experience comes with a cost — a cost that’s been rising due to a new ticket scalping economy.

Ticket scalping, which is the practice of reselling tickets for more than their original value, has swept through campus — normalizing what some might consider outrageous prices to pay for a single game.

Days leading up to Saturday, every graduating class’s Snapchat story becomes an open marketplace for football tickets. Phrases such as “selling tickets, willing to negotiate, add me” captivate the hearts and wallets of students waiting to see Braelon Allen and Braedyn Locke in action.


One UW student named Connor, who requested to remain anonymous because he has resold tickets for more than their original cost, said advertising on Snapchat yields impressive results.

“Within two hours, twenty or thirty people add you,” Connor said.

Ticket scalping is prohibited by UWS 18.08 (12)(b). UWPD spokesperson Marc Lovicott told Fox 11 News in 2015 that ticket scalping can result in a fine and according to UW, purchasing student tickets with the sole intent to resell them can result in your student ticket account being “cancelled.”

The consistency in which this happens makes some people turn it into a consistent side business. It’s a business that appears on Snapchat stories and focuses on making the maximum profit possible before the window of opportunity closes.

“I’d say within an hour or two you probably already have the price you’re looking for,” Connor said.

To put this in perspective, let’s use the ongoing season as an estimate. This year’s football season tickets for students went for $189, plus a $20 processing fee, according to UW. Five of their seven home games are against other teams in the Big Ten Conference. Each of these are big matchups in determining how far the Badgers travel in postseason action — increasing the importance of every week.

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If a scalper were to purchase the season tickets and sell each of the conference game tickets for a generous $150, they’d walk away with an almost 100% profit — easily surpassing that mark if the two non-conference game tickets are also sold in the process.

Contributing to already high-demand for student section tickets is the ability to resell them to students who don’t attend UW, Connor said.

“When the school sells those initial tickets, those can only go to UW-Madison students,” Connor said. “But, when you resell them it can go to anybody. And when you have people bringing in two, three friends a weekend to go to the game … it effectively almost doubles the market, doubles the demand for it … it becomes extremely profitable.”

Football isn’t the only sport where ticket scalping runs rampant either. Basketball, women’s volleyball and hockey are joining the fray. The success of these programs only fanned the flames, gaining larger audiences and for scalpers, more business.

In recent years, UW’s No. 1 ranked women’s volleyball team has created a major buzz around the country. Besides their stellar performances — including national and consistent conference champions — they’ve also broken attendance records for their games. In 2021, 18,755 fans watched their NCAA Tournament Final match win against Nebraska, In 2022 16,833 fans against Florida and just over a month ago 17,037 fans watched their win against Marquette.

A volleyball game has become a must-see, but that also means tickets marketed by the university are likely to sell out. Ticket scalping profits from this problem many students or fans may find. In scenarios like this prices can become more inflated as scalpers know someone will be willing to pay the price.

With that same logic of inflation based on demand, basketball and hockey have seen steady upsell charges for tickets. Both hockey teams started the season with great records and the start of the basketball season comes in the next couple of weeks. As these seasons unravel, more and more tickets are sure to be seen being sold through Snapchat.

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As the trend of reselling tickets becoming more expensive, it’s reasonable to ask how sustainable this small economy is. Will there ever be a point where enough people say no to these prices? The chances of this don’t seem likely.

Successive record-breaking classes have provided ticket scalpers with a growing market of potential buyers, rather than cutting off their supply of willing customers. As the university rolls out more bundle ticket plans such as the AreaRED Card Sports Pass, the end of ticket scalping being a stable system used by many on campus just isn’t in sight.

“I think no matter what there’s always going to be demand for tickets … it’s just too big of a thing … at the campus,” Connor said.

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