- Darren Rovell, ESPN.com Sports Business reporter
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It wasn't the price of a television or a fridge that caught my eye as I was perusing among the Black Friday offers last night.
It was actually a ticket offer that appeared online from the Minnesota Golden Gophers, called a Golden Ticket, at a cost of $75.
The Golden Ticket is preloaded with all nine Big Ten Conference men's basketball games. For $8.33 a game? That's a pretty good deal. Especially considering the retail value of those tickets is $315.
But there's a catch.
The holder of the Golden Ticket can go to as many of those nine games as he or she wants, but if the team loses at the game they go to, the pass becomes deactivated.
The idea of the deal is simple. Get someone who hasn't typically purchased tickets to try it out. That fan will come see lower-interest games because he or she doesn't want to lose out on the value, and it will keep pass usage low (they're selling 250 Golden Tickets) for the higher-interest games.
The program was devised by AudienceView, a company that has been helping the Gophers stay innovative with fan engagement through ticketing, e-commerce and donations.
This only works, we should note, with a middle-of-the-road team. Obviously if a team isn't any good, no one is going to have faith to buy the ticket. But the Gophers were picked to finish sixth in this year's Big Ten media poll, and could potentially beat the top teams every once in a while, or lose to the lower-ranked teams.
So let's go through the Gophers' schedule and see which games we'd choose to go to. Let's assume they'll beat every team the media voted below them and lose to every team above them. I would then go to these home games: Northwestern, Nebraska, Iowa and Illinois. Then I'd choose the last game in which the Gophers are playing an opponent ranked higher than them. In the eighth game they are playing Indiana, which might be No. 1 by the time that meeting arrives. I'd risk going to that one, and if the Gophers beat the Hoosiers, I can go to the final game versus Penn State.
If this strategy works, and the Gophers beat every team that they should, I could go to five games with my $75. That would cost me $15 a game instead of the retail value of $35.
I love how this also appeals to the gambler in us all. We're gambling by going to each game we go to. It also makes me cheer harder if it's close at the end. I'm not only cheering for the team, I'm cheering for myself.
The ticketing world, for the most part, is pretty dull. It's nice to see AudienceView and the Gophers energizing this space.