Starting this fall, UA season ticket holders will not have an excuse to leave their seats empty.
The UA athletic department has reached a three-year agreement with StubHub that will make the online ticket service the Wildcats' preferred ticket reseller.
The department will receive about $80,000 annually from StubHub in exchange for marketing rights, which include signs inside McKale Center and Arizona Stadium, radio spots and a link to StubHub.com on the athletic department's Web site. The UA athletic department will also send pamphlets to season-ticket holders explaining the system.
StubHub, founded in 2000, is a ticket marketplace that brokers sales between fans. The company was sold to eBay Inc. for $310 million earlier this year.
Fans can post their unused tickets on StubHub.com and set their price, and people looking to buy tickets can buy directly off the Web site. StubHub, which receives a 15 percent fee from the seller and a 10 percent fee from the buyer, arranges for shipping.
Arizona is the 16th NCAA school to partner with the ticket seller.
"This means that when the average fan is traveling or has a conflict and can't give them to a friend or colleague, someone can get the ticket," said Brent Seebohm, who handles the UA athletic department's account for Host Communications.
"Our agreement will make sure the home-field and homecourt advantage is still strong."
UA officials are hoping the new arrangement will lead to fewer empty seats at football and basketball games and less scalping in front of McKale Center and Arizona Stadium.
Like scalpers, StubHub offers tickets for as much money as the market can bear. A recent posting on StubHub offered UA basketball season tickets in the upper deck for $1,750 apiece, well over the normal price of $380, plus a $100 priority fee.
Still, StubHub officials insist tickets in less demand will be cheaper.
Going through StubHub, fans already can purchase front-row tickets to the UA football team's home opener against NAU from a season ticket holder — single-game tickets have yet to go on sale — for less than face value. Fans can buy a $12, obstructed-view seat in Section 20, Row 1, for $10.
"For basketball, I guarantee you're going to see high prices," StubHub spokesman Sean Pate said. "For football, it's going to be the opposite at this point. Fans are going to sell some of their football tickets, especially if they have other plans, for whatever they can get for them."
The agreement with StubHub could change the way fans dole out tickets. Tucsonan Henry Barraza and his family have sat in the same McKale seats — Section 115, Row 32, seats 17-20 — since 1983. In 24 years, Barraza said he has never sold his unused seats.
"We give them away," said Barraza, a 48-year-old father of three. "The tickets go in a flash. The most it's ever taken to give them away is two phone calls. There's always somebody who wants to go."
Barraza said he will probably continue to give away his tickets but would consider using StubHub.
"With basketball, there are just so many games, and they're all Thursday-Saturday," he said. "Maybe I'd sell a Thursday game, or a nonconference game."
The arrangement with StubHub marks an increased shift in business practice for Arizona, one of the nation's few self-sustaining athletic departments.
The athletic department agreed last November to farm out its sponsorship sales to Host Communications, which already represented the school in radio broadcasts.
Operating under the name Wildcat Sports Properties, Host Communications has been looking into less-conventional revenue streams.
StubHub will advertise on the base of each basket in McKale and is expected to have rotating signage at Arizona Stadium. Both are prime real estate.
If StubHub and the UA seem like strange bedfellows, get used to it. Seebohm said the athletic department is constantly looking for ways to boost revenue.
"With the rigors of increasing budgets and operational costs of a $40 million athletic budget, it's crucial to be creative in nontraditional arrangements," he said.
How it works
Want to sell tickets?
• Register at StubHub.com, and then name your price.
• StubHub advertises for your tickets at your requested price, then contacts you when they sell.
• You mail the tickets to the buyer using FedEx labels supplied by StubHub. StubHub credits your account, minus a 15 percent brokerage fee. Account holders can close their accounts to receive their cash.
Want to buy tickets?
• Register at StubHub.com.
• Find the tickets you're looking for and pay for them online using a credit card, plus a 10 percent fee. Wait for confirmation e-mail from StubHub.
• The seller mails the tickets to you anonymously using StubHub's return address.