A Fiesta Bowl trip could cost UCF fans up to $700 for airfare alone.  (USATSI)
A Fiesta Bowl trip could cost UCF fans up to $700 for airfare alone. (USATSI)

By winning the American Athletic Conference outright, UCF clinched a program-first BCS bid is now preparing to play Baylor in the Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, Ariz. Unfortunately, the high cost of travel from Orlando has resulted in low ticket sales for one the most important bowl games in school history.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, fans have voiced frustration with the Knights placement across the country.

Many UCF fans took to social media last week to say they would not be able to make the trip to Glendale due to financial reasons. Round-trip plane tickets from Orlando to Phoenix during bowl week have jumped to more than $700.

On Sunday, UCF announced it had sold 5,000 tickets, less than one-third of its 17,500 ticket it is required to purchase for the bowl game. The UCF figure includes band members and player and team compensatory tickets — meaning fewer than 5,000 tickets have been sold.

UCF will need to sell at least 13,000 tickets to break even financially, but the school will also have access to the $1 million pot set aside by the American Athletic Conference to offset losses from bowl ticket sales. 

"The conference and all of my counterparts are committed to making sure … that at the end of the day the bowl experience is financially sensible," UCF athletic director Todd Stansbury told the Orlando Sentinel on Saturday. "A lot of things still have to shake out. I'm extremely confident that our conference, like all other major conferences, are going to make this a great experience as well as a situation where we all benefit."

Another challenge for schools is competing with the secondary ticket market, where fans are often able to get bowl tickets for a lower cost than what the school can offer. With the cost of travel for the bowl game higher than many UCF fans expected, the secondary market can serve as a way to cut costs for the trip. 

Earlier in the season, UCF was projected as a selection by the Orange Bowl or Sugar Bowl; both driving distance from UCF's campus. However, Bowling Green's upset of Northern Illinois in the MAC title game bumped the Huskies from the BCS mix and moved the Knights to Glendale to face the Big 12 champions.