I realize this is probably going to come off as a dumb question, but is it important for a bowl game to make money for a school?
LSU and Alabama are spending a small fortune to bring their bands to the BCS title game.
LSU senior associate athletic director Herb Vincent said the school needs 529 tickets for its band, cheerleaders and support staff. At $350 each — the highest face-value cost for BCS tickets because of their location — that’s $185,150 the school must pay.
The allotment for Alabama’s band is slightly more. Deborah Lane, assistant vice president for university relations, said the Alabama band needs 539 seats for a total cost of $188,650.
Overall, Vincent said, the total bill for the LSU band’s appearance at the BCS game will run to $445,150, including transportation, three night’s lodging, meals, police escorts and other miscellaneous costs.
Alabama did not provide the total amount for what it will cost to get its band to and from the game, though it’s easy to figure that its costs will be similar. That means it would be about $1 million combined for both bands to appear at the game.
That cost comes out of each school’s allotment from the SEC.
Alleva said LSU has budgeted a little over $2 million to cover all of its expenses associated with the championship game. The bulk of the $18 million payout LSU gets for being in the BCS game goes into a pot of bowl revenue from all Southeastern Conference teams to eventually be distributed among its members.
“If we spend more, it’s our fault,” Alleva said. “If we spend less, we make money.
“But in a lot of bowl games, it’s a losing deal.”
As in Clemson’s case, where it’s expected to lose almost $200,000 on its Orange Bowl trip.
This year, Clemson will receive a $1.75 million bowl allowance from the Atlantic Coast Conference, but the program will incur more than $1.91 million in expenses including lodging ($576,696), meals ($148,904), travel costs ($192,250) mileage allowance for players ($114,280) and what can be a major burden — buying unsold tickets ($390,070).
“There is a perception problem; it’s not a windfall,” said Clemson athletic director Terry Don Phillips said of the team’s Meineke Bowl trip last year. “You just want to be able to break even. Sometimes you don’t even break even. But there are significant benefits. You get some extra practice time. And anytime you can get on national television, it continues exposure for your program, which is very significant value.”
I know the unsold tickets are a problem. And it’s ridiculous for a school relying to some extent on taxpayer funds to support its athletics to put itself in a position where it’s going to lose millions attending a bowl game. But is there a happy medium for games that are supposed to be about the experience for the players as much as anything else, or should we be outraged by any loss a school takes?
And what are we supposed to think about the ADs at Texas A&M and Arkansas wanting to continue the series at Jerry World, despite net revenues to each falling far below the anticipated amount?
Originally, both schools expected to make approximately $5 million from the game. However, according to the documents obtained by The Eagle, A&M has failed to reach that number.
The school brought in $4.2 million as a result of the 2009 game, a 47-19 Razorbacks’ victory.
A&M’s take dwindled to $2.9 million in 2010 — a 24-17 Razorbacks’ victory that was the lowest attended in the three-game series.
I don’t know how much each school generates with a home game, so maybe the neutral site isn’t a net revenue loser, but I suspect that each sold their constituents on that eye-widening $5 million figure. Somebody’s giving up a lot of money to maintain a presence – not on TV, but in the Metroplex area. Who knew Dallas-Ft. Worth was such a big deal?
UPDATE: Don’t forget about this additional bowl-related expense (h/t The Wiz of Odds).