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Want to see Cincinnati play Alabama? Here's what it will cost to go

Cotton Bowl on New Year's Eve in Arlington, Texas
Rams Cowboys Football
Posted at 10:10 AM, Dec 07, 2021

CINCINNATI — It could be the New Year's Eve trip of a lifetime to see the University of Cincinnati Bearcats take on Alabama in the Cotton Bowl.

But don't expect to do it on the cheap, unless you are willing to drive 15 hours each way.

We checked into airfares, hotels, rental cars, and the most important thing: tickets.

The bottom line is you are probably not doing to do anything for much less than $2,000 per person, unless you drive and stay in a cheap hotel.

Game ticket prices

First, you need tickets.

All seats are accounted for to the schools and boosters, so as a general-public buyer, expect to pay $400 to $600 for a decent seat in the mid-level, or about $150 for nosebleeds in the upper deck.

The best seats are going as high as $2,000 on resale sites.

That is not too bad, compared with the National Championship game a week later, where tickets start at close to $1,000.

Airfare prices

Unfortunately, expect to pay $900 flying roundtrip to Dallas on December 30 for two nights, on Delta or American.

Delta added a special roundtrip flight from Cincinnati to Dallas on Tuesday morning, but the flight sold out within 2 hours, according to

Frontier and Southwest are cheaper, but have convoluted routes with difficult flight ties.

After all, it is Christmas week, New Year's Eve, and a bowl game all happening at once.

You may find fares on Kayak as low as $400,but they involve multiple city stops.

One low fare we found actually requires an Amtrak train to Chicago, which sounds great if you have a week for travel.

Or you can drive to Chicago or Nashville (5 hours) and fly direct to Dallas for around $500 roundtrip.

Package deals

Your best bet may be a package through AAA, a local travel agent, or a site like Expedia or Travelocity.

Provident Travel has a package including air, hotel, and airport transfers for $1,600 a person, though you may have to get onto a waiting list at this point.

We found round-trip airfare and two nights at the very nice Dallas Doubletree hotel for $1,800 per person.

Plan on paying $100 - $200 more for a 2-day car rental. (Expedia had cars as low as $49 a day.) Don't expect cheap Uber rides anywhere near the stadium.

Scam warning

Finally, stick with known ticket sellers that have anti-fraud guarantees, such as Ticketmaster, StubHub, Vivid Seats, and 333-SEAT in Cincinnati.

Beware tickets on Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist.

And don't pay by Venmo or Zelle -- that is the same as paying with a handful of cash -- unless it is someone you know.

Scammers love big events like the College Football Playoff and the Super Bowl, because they know people are desperate to find seats.

That way you get your tickets, and you don't waste your money.

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