In the aftermath of a sex abuse scandal involving former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky and its fallout - including the firing of legendary head coach Joe Paterno - ticket prices for the team's football game Saturday vs. Nebraska fluctuated drastically.
The major leaps and falls made up the most radical fluctuation of event sales ever recorded for two-year-old ticket aggregating Web site TiqIQ.
Nothing has ever moved like Penn State tickets in our two years around, Chris Matcovich, TiqIQ's director of data and communications, said in an email to the International Business Times.
What was going on affected ticket prices over the course of the week on various online ticket-sale Web sites. At their highest levels, average ticket prices across vendors reached numbers beaten only by the Nittany Lions' loss to Alabama in September.
Meanwhile, ESPN spokesman Josh Krulewitz said Monday that Penn State's eventual 17-14 loss to Nebraska at Beaver Stadium in State College, Pa., drew a 3.8 overnight rating. That marked the highest rating for a noon ET window since the company started keeping records in 2001.
During the week, the news of the day led to the fluctuations in ticket prices. TiqIQ aggregates ticket prices from EBay, StubHub, TicketsNow and TicketNetwork, as well as monitoring sales from its own site.
As coverage of the scandal built up across various media platforms, ticket prices reached a low of $131.45, on average. On Wednesday afternoon, ticket prices skyrocketed as Paterno announced he planned to retire at the end of the season and would coach his final home game at Beaver Stadium on Saturday. Average prices reached $325 Wednesday afternoon.
Then the Penn State Board of Trustees called a press conference. Before the 10 p.m. conference, in which the board would fire Paterno and university president Graham Spanier, ticket prices stood at $283.61. After, they took their most drastic drop over the next 18 hours, falling 38.19 percent to $175.30 by 4 p.m. the next day.
That's around where they ended up - an average of $173 on Saturday.
Ticket prices for that game, unfortunate due to the circumstances, were a good barometer of what was going on, Matcovich said.
Matcovich said it was the biggest fluctuation the company has seen in its two years of existence. He mentioned two comparable instances. First, a major surge in New York Knicks' ticket prices when the team traded for star forward Carmelo Anthony last season. Prices skyrocketed for the Knicks' 27 remaining games last year.
The second, also happening to come in New York, was when Yankees' shortstop Derek Jeter chased the milestone mark of 3,000 hits this season. Average ticket prices swung based on Jeter's performance the night before, as fans tried to anticipate when he would reach the 3,000 mark.
But those still didn't compare to the Penn State situation. For online ticket marketplace StubHub, demand was already high at the start of the week because of the implications this game had on Penn State's season. Penn State was ranked No. 12 in the nation and could have cemented itself at the top of its Big Ten division.
After Paterno announced his retirement, ticket prices boomed 25 to 50 percent in the next few hours.
Ticket sellers raised prices, prospective buyers were more interested, and demand peaked, Joellen Ferrer, a StubHub spokesperson, said in an email to the IBTimes.
After the Board of Trustees' press conference firing Paterno, prices fell about 25 percent and held there until kickoff. Ferrer said the fluctuations were unusual but they were something the company has seen in the past as StubHub is an open marketplace in which fans buy and sell tickets,
This situation in terms of ticketing fluctuation is similar to trends we see when high-profile players are traded, when championship playoff series swing, or when milestones are being changed, Ferrer said. Granted the situation at PSU is much different and I cannot comment on that aspect, but the dynamics with tickets has been much like we've seen for other events on StubHub.