BATON ROUGE, La. -- In the middle of a record-breaking, undefeated LSU college football season, Louisiana's lawmakers have a special perk that gives them access to face-value, postseason game tickets that regular fans can't easily obtain before they hit the pricey secondary market.
The longstanding tradition is particularly fruitful this year, as LSU is within striking distance of the national championship game, being held in January at New Orleans' Superdome. If LSU defeats the University of Oklahoma in the Peach Bowl semifinal and reaches the championship game, many Louisiana lawmakers will be in the Superdome on Jan. 13 to watch the Tigers in person, on the same day the House and Senate are sworn in for the start of the new term.
The Advocate reports that two dozen Louisiana House members and 20 state senators –- some of whom will have left office by the time the national championship game takes place –- have bought end zone tickets for $600 apiece from the game’s host committee. Similar tickets were going for upwards of $2,000 on StubHub.
Meanwhile, 95 of 105 representatives and 38 of 39 senators opted for a similar offer from LSU to buy tickets to at least one postseason game, which includes the SEC championship game, Peach Bowl and potentially the national championship game. They won’t pay for the championship game tickets unless LSU makes it.
“There are very, very few perks in the Legislature,” said Sen. Conrad Appel, a term-limited Republican from Metairie who steps down on the morning of Jan. 13 and bought the tickets for the championship game that night. “It costs a fortune to work in the Legislature ... If there are a couple perks, I don’t think it is a really bad thing.”
For years, LSU has offered lawmakers the option to buy face-value tickets to LSU bowl games. On Saturday, when the Tigers trounced Georgia in the SEC Championship game in Atlanta, 47 legislators had tickets through the arrangement. LSU also gives legislators and statewide officials the opportunity to buy season tickets for regular season games.
Prices for lawmakers to attend the Peach Bowl on Dec. 28 in Atlanta are $175 or $300 a ticket, depending on the seat. National championship tickets range from $425 to $875 a seat.
Rep. Barry Ivey, a Baton Rouge Republican, got tickets to the SEC Championship game through the LSU arrangement and gave them to his father. Ivey said he’s lined up to get national championship tickets through LSU if the team makes it, and will probably go himself.
“It allows lawmakers to get at the front of the line knowing the demand will exceed the supply. That’s a fact,” Ivey said. “It’s 100% a perk of the job.”
But Ivey said the reason LSU or other organizations offer the tickets is to network with lawmakers and highlight new investments to facilities.
Gov. John Bel Edwards, an avid LSU football fan, will attend the national championship game in a suite the Superdome offers to Louisiana governors, said Edwards spokeswoman Christina Stephens. The governor decided to scrap the inaugural ball on Jan. 13 because of the football game.
The last time LSU played for a national title in 2012, every state senator and all but three state representatives at the time bought tickets through either LSU or the Sugar Bowl committee, only to see the Tigers lose 21-0 to Alabama in the Superdome.