Third & Long

Americans Tackling Financials for Love of College Football

SunTrust finds seven in ten college football fans willing to make tradeoffs to pay for game day

ATLANTA, Aug. 29, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — Some fans will spend hundreds to thousands of dollars on college football activities this season, from hosting game-day parties to attending the big games. According to a SunTrust survey conducted by Harris Poll, 72 percent of self-proclaimed college football fans are willing to give up something to save for tickets, lodging, tailgating, team merchandise and other activities.

When asked the tradeoffs* they are willing to make to pay for one season of college football activities/items, fans willing to give up something say:

  • 48% would cut back on eating out once a week
  • 33% would forgo their gym membership
  • 31% would give up online shopping services
  • 27% would cut the feed on streaming video services
  • 22% would sacrifice a vacation

“From game-day gear to tailgating and tickets, being a fan can get expensive,” said Brian Ford, SunTrust Financial Well-Being executive. “Having clarity of what is important allows people to budget and spend on what they value most.”

One in six fans said they would give up their mobile phone every Friday to fund their college football fandom. One in nine fans would give up internet access the first week of every month.

According to SunTrust-sponsored analysis by Wakefield Research, the average costs for college football fans in the Southeast this season will be $1,212. The average cost increases to $4,232 if hotel stays are included. The total costs of attending home games vary considerably by team; the average fan will spend $411 on ticketing**, $383 on parking and a whopping $3,020 on hotels, which are often booked out months in advance of games. Click here for the full list of costs for fourteen colleges in the Southeast.

“We want to help people build financial confidence, so they can enjoy the moments that matter,” added Ford. “It is possible to spend responsibly and even splurge a little without post-game regret. A little planning is all it takes to keep the budget in bounds.”

SunTrust offers the following tips to help you enjoy the season without racking up penalties:

  • Build a game plan
    When it’s third and seven, the right play can make all the difference. The same goes for your finances. Start by building a budget that’s based on the things you value most. Whether it’s saving for championship tickets or buying a new home, recognizing what is important can help you prioritize where your money should be spent.
  • Down, Set, Save!
    Tackle your savings goals by setting aside money for your own “fan fund.” And to keep your savings consistent and on track, set up automatic transfers into your fan fund for an “Automatic First Down!”
  • Go long!
    Set up an investment strategy that will help you score lifelong touchdowns. These smart investments will help you achieve long-term goals like retirement savings while also enjoying home game season tickets in the meantime.
    For inspiration and to learn how to gain financial confidence, join The onUp Movement and access free tools, tips, calculators and inspirational stories at


Research Methodology

The Southeast college football fan cost analysis was created by Wakefield Research using publicly available data. Each of the 14 teams included in the study were assessed across 14 variables (seven major and seven sub-variables). Unless otherwise stated, “ticketing” includes “ticket price” and “donation”. Data was collected between August 13-23, 2018.

When it's third and seven, the right play can make all the difference. The same goes for your finances...

  • Ticket Price: The lowest priced season ticket providing access to 7 home games per team.
  • Donation: The lowest priced season ticket donation amount required.
  • Parking: The sum of individual parking passes for each home game of the season, available through StubHub.
  • Merchandise: The average price of a jersey plus the average of the highest and lowest priced cap listed at the official store of each team.
  • Tailgating: The price of a single cooler and portable grill, plus the price of seven home game purchases of: a case of beer, a 10lb bag of ice, a bag of 50 plastic cups, and two packs of 10 hot dogs.
  • Stadium Concessions: The price of a hot dog plus a regular soda at each team’s home stadium per home game.
  • Hotel: The average cost of a one-night stay in a minimum 3-star hotel within 3.5 miles of the stadium. Two games are used as a proxy for the season: The Saturdays when each team plays their second and third game in their home city against a southeast opponent.

* Survey participants were allowed to select more than one item they were willing to give up.

** “Ticketing” includes ticket price and lowest priced season ticket donation required.




About SunTrust Banks, Inc.
SunTrust Banks, Inc. (NYSE: STI) is a purpose-driven company dedicated to Lighting the Way to Financial Well-Being for the people, businesses, and communities it serves. SunTrust leads onUp, a national movement inspiring Americans to build financial confidence. Headquartered in Atlanta, the Company has two business segments: Consumer and Wholesale. Its flagship subsidiary, SunTrust Bank, operates an extensive branch and ATM network throughout the high-growth Southeast and Mid-Atlantic states, along with 24-hour digital access. Certain business lines serve consumer, commercial, corporate, and institutional clients nationally. As of June 30, 2018, SunTrust had total assets of $208 billion and total deposits of $161 billion. The Company provides deposit, credit, trust, investment, mortgage, asset management, securities brokerage, and capital market services. Learn more at
Survey Methodology
This survey was conducted online within the U.S. by The Harris Poll on behalf of SunTrust from Aug. 21-23, 2018 of 2,035 adults ages 18 and older, among whom 916 are fans of college football. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.