Debating In Game Experience versus Home Gating in the SEC


It’s spring time again which means it’s time to make that decision on do you renew your season tickets for football, get them if you haven’t ever done so or if it’s been in a while OR just home gate.

Homegating is a term that became popular several years ago as fans of all sports started turning their homes into mild or even serious watching pads for their respective sporting events.

With the evolution of the flat screen television, nonstop affordable cable or satellite sports programing, great outdoor furniture and a Kroger card – fans have been able bring their cherished sports moments to their homes or living rooms.

So with ever rising ticket prices in sports tickets and game entry and now with the ability to stay at home and enjoy your ballgame and team, the question becomes which direction do you go and why?

Let me preface the remainder of this article with this is not an indictment on SEC football ticket sales at Mississippi State or anywhere else or  the in game experience – the purpose of this article is to debate and discuss the aforementioned topic because I enjoy both experiences.

But – as ticket prices around the SEC soar and the price of everything that is involved with the “game-day experience” goes up, this has become a serious debate around your job, your home and on the weekends.

Ticket prices continue to go up in sports and not only tickets, but the entire game day package goes up – and for the sake of this conversation, we will stick with college football.

As those prices continue to climb, you also have the ongoing talk around the country of unemployment numbers, inflation and low pay raises in the work force.

Per – depending on how you calculate the unemployment rate, it varies today from 5.5% on the low side to 14.3% on the high side, but either way most economists tell you there is very little movement in the unemployment circles.  Couple that with those that are employed, are only receiving a national average of 0.1% raise annually, per and you start to see a serious problem.

As ticket prices climb and the in game experience climbs, your paycheck isn’t living up to what is needed to get in the stadium on most days unless you’re doing some serious money management or throwing costs on credit cards.

So what is a person to do?  Let’s break this down even further.

Cost Breakout – In Game VS Home Gate:

First let’s look at the big elephant in the room which is cost. We will use the MSU ticket prices as an example, but most everyone is set up the same way.  You pay a club contribution or foundation contribution plus your ticket prices.  And – I get it, because sports has become big business and it takes every penny to run the types of programs that mingle within the SEC.

As the ole boy once said – All this didn’t just happen.

So to get the full effect let’s look at an entire season of college football, setting the parameters of going to home games only (seven games) and a family of four that needs lodging.

When you figure in club contributions and tickets plus parking, gas, tailgating, lodging, your sports gear and more it looks about like this.

Granted this can vary depending on number of people, if you need lodging or not and how far you have to come and go; also not everyone tailgates. This number is considered a BASE for seats on about the 30-yard line; ticket prices can go up or down depending on your need and access.

Now let’s look at the homegating cost for the same scenario.

This scenario can also change depending on your television, furniture and game day set up.  If you already have your television of choice and your patio furniture this can decrease down to a mere $875-dollars.

Yes it looks like I am an advocate of homegating and honestly I can go either way, but there is no denying the cost.  Let’s look at other factors.


You are at your favorite tailgate spot and kickoff is set for 2:30. So you can either go in the gate when they open, which is normally two hours prior to kickoff or wait and go in between gate opening and kickoff.  The longer you wait the harder it is to get inside the building.  Lines build, waits at the bathroom and concession stands grow and it’s all a matter of your patience.

For me, I don’t care.  I typically head into the stadium about an hour early because I like to watch the team warm up and get that in stadium feeling as it builds – something you cannot get at home.  I like to crowd watch and hear the band and just enjoy the pregame experience.

Meanwhile you are at home and you do not get that, but you do get instant access five minutes before the game with play by play commentary and the ability to start, stop and pause your game.  You also get instant bathroom access minus long lines and food that’s normally available at an instance.  BUT what if the game before your’s hits overtime or is in a weather delay?  Guess what, you just lost moments of your game.

Crowds versus no Crowd:

If you hate crowds and are claustrophobic an SEC football setting is not for you and that settles it – homegate.

But, some people love the crowds and I do at times.  Like last years Auburn atmosphere was absolutely amazing as was Texas A&M. But again other factors are involved.  When you buy season tickets you sadly don’t get to pick who you sit by in your surroundings.  You may end up with that guy or girl that won’s sit down or that person with the sign that has to show it off or the man that won’s stop cussing the refs, the coaches or anyone that dare get in his way.  You also roll the dice on being around someone that’s totally  inebriated and obnoxious.  Granted 85% of fans act right and do great, but heaven forbid you get around one in the 15% and those that have been there know just what I am talking about.

I have a small child and honestly it will be a while before I take her in any stadium just because honestly, I don’t like the way some of you act.

Homegating – there is again no wait for a bathroom, no crowds or very little and if you missed a play you can check out numerous replays, rewind, fast forward and get analysis if needed.

So What to Do:

It’s truly up to the individual or family on which way to go.  If you can afford the tickets and everything that goes along with heading off to the ball game I highly encourage it.  I, like many of you have had the pleasure to be at hundreds of great (and bad) moments in Mississippi State sports.  For the person that has rarely been or never been I say go if you get the chance.

There is honestly nothing like being at a ball game and the experience it can be.

For the family that’s strapped financially, I’m no Dave Ramsey, but it’s not worth maxing a Discover Card to go see a game – it’s honestly not so homegate; the experience is so much better than it was in 1995.

But I do think this is a serious question school administrators, athletic directors and conference commissioners will have to address in the near future.

Do you somehow cap this cost of the in game experience or price ball games to meet the economic boundaries that are in play at that moment, so you don’t price out the average family like the NFL is doing or is the dollar your main objective?  If it is, college football will become a game attended by primarily elitists.

And if it does get to that point, lucky for us average Joe’s out there – you can always homegate.  Kroger sales fantastic potato salad and Walmart sells a crystal clear TV that looks amazing on my back patio. They didn’t create the SEC Network for nothing.