49ers Gave Away Lots of Free Tickets to National Championship Game to (Sorta) Fill Stadium

By Robert Haugh

There was a big problem with the College Football Playoffs (CNP) national championship game on Monday night. It wasn’t just the weather. Tickets weren’t selling for weeks.

But then tickets magically sold, according to a report by Kerry Crowley in the Mercury News:

“Though more than 4,000 tickets remained for sale on StubHub in the hours leading up to the matchup between No. 1 Alabama and No. 2 Clemson, an afternoon rush drove up prices for last-minute buyers on the secondary market and resulted in a final attendance figure of 74,814.”

Afternoon rush?

Did a bunch of Bay Area fans decide to suddenly go? Or did Clemson and Alabama fans fly out here and just wait for prices to fall? Not likely.

According to sources at the game in a position to know, the real attendance was 58,300.

Last Minute Ticket Give Away

We learned from many local sources that the 49ers were giving away lots of free tickets to try and fill the stadium. The 49ers were responsible for getting the game to come to Levi’s and for some of the ticket sales.

One teacher told us there was “no limit” to the number of tickets they could get. Another person put out a message on Facebook asking his friends if they wanted tickets.

A knowledgeable source said the 49ers and the CNP staff pulled tickets off StubHub and other sellers. They didn’t want prices to drop more. They were concerned about bad reports like this in the national media from A. J. Perez in USA Today:

“The average ticket price on StubHub as of Sunday afternoon was $509, making it the least-expensive college football championship since the four-team playoff debuted for the 2014 season.” 

And from Josh Dubow of the Associated Press:

“Tickets for the championship game are now available for just $135 on the secondary market, according to TicketIQ, less than half of what the price was before the semifinals and well below the face value price of $475.”

Money Losers

The 49ers will likely lose about $12 million. The team could not get the City to subsidize the game. In fact, Santa Clara will be reimbursed for all its costs. Kudos to the Mayor, Council, and City Manager.

Last year, Atlanta spent more than $12.5 million in city funds for the game.

The City of San Jose is another money loser, according to Jody Meacham of the Silicon Valley Business Journal.  San Jose budgeted $1 million for police overtime plus $100,000 for downtown events that got rained out.









  1. Surprise!! Giving away “FREE” tickets to appear “sold out.” Sounds like Goodell’s NFL playbook.
    Santa Clara should be grateful to City Manager Deanna Santana for doing a ” job well done.” Thank you!
    She saved us, 12 MILLION DOLLARS! Deanna is worth every penny in salary and then some.
    Too bad the negativity in the small town paper, states she is not fiscally responsible!
    What do you say to that Miles Barber? Can you say 12 MILLION DOLLARS
    Let’s start out 2019 with the positive narrative about the Mayor and City Council, looks like they are more in control of city finances. Stop your obnoxious commentary, we are all tired of your rhetoric.

  2. Thanks to the mayor and council for protecting Santa Clara against Jim Mercurio and the 49ers. This could have cost the city a Fortune.

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