Fans of Rock Hill high school football probably could absorb a dollar increase in the cost of a ticket at the gate for a Friday night game. But bumping up the cost of an intra-city game to $10 might be going too far.
Rock Hill school board members heard a plea from Northwestern High School athletic director Lauren West Monday night to raise ticket prices to cover the teams’ costs. Proceeds form ticket sales are supposed to cover both the cost of operating home games and of traveling to away games.
West told board members that ticket sales now barely cover the $4,000 to $4,500 tab per game. She has suggested raising the cost for a ticket to games played by Rock Hill and Northwestern high schools, both in Region 3-AAAA, from $6 to $7.
She would raise the price of tickets for intra-city games, meaning games played between two of the three Rock Hill high schools, from $7 each to $10. West noted that not only the district but also Region 3-AAAA recommend these price increases.
South Pointe High School will compete in Class AAA next year, so Stallions fans would be affected by the intra-city ticket hikes but not by the $1 increase recommended for Region 3-AAAA games.
The issue of ticket prices is somewhat tricky. As board chairman Jim Vining noted Monday, attendance at local high school games has been declining, and raising ticket prices might discourage even more fans from attending.
A number of factors might be contributing to fewer fans in the stands. For example, Vining said that loyalty to one high school or another among middle school students is not as strong as it used to be.
But the school district depends on ticket sales to cover the cost of operating the games, so it has to find a balance between raising prices and scaring off fans. We think fans probably would absorb a dollar increase in ticket prices for Trojans or Bearcats games.
But an increase of $3 for an intra-city game might be prohibitive. For a family of four, that would be $12 more, for a total of $40, a hefty bill for a high school game.
Some, no doubt, would be willing to pay that, but it could be a real burden for many families. It also could drive down attendance to the point where the gate would be even less than it is now.
Mounting a football game is expensive – a lot more so than a cross country meet or a wrestling match. And ticket prices need to reflect that.
But beyond offering kids a chance to play football, the purposes of having a high school football program are to promote local pride in the schools, unite the community around the teams and give people something fun to do on Friday night. If ticket prices are so high that fans can’t afford to go to the games, the district would negate many of the reasons for having football teams in the first place.