PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- One of the big problems for many schools during bowl season is ticket sales. Each school is required to purchase a set among from nearly every bowl game. Any unsold tickets are eaten at the expense of the school.
For BCS games, each school is required to purchase 17,500 tickets. That is a big reason Connecticut lost a reported $1.6 million on its trip to the Fiesta Bowl. The school lost some $2.7 million on unsold tickets alone. Oklahoma, which beat the Huskies in the game, also lost money on ticket sales, though the Big 12 helped absorb some of the cost.
Big East commissioner John Marinatto addressed this topic during the spring meetings, and said he would not be surprised if the ticket-sales requirement was addressed during the next BCS cycle. He also added it was a misnomer to believe that schools in the Big East lost money on bowl trips because of the league's revenue distribution.
"The way we’ve done it in the past, we assign a certain amount of money for certain bowl placement," Marinatto said. "But all of the bowl money is divided equally. So if you add up what you get from your revenue pool and then add it to what you get for participation in a certain bowl and then compare it to your expenses, nobody loses money. The problem is the easy exercise is, 'What do I get for the bowl game?' Sometimes it leaves a negative. But you’re not factoring in what you get from all of the bowl games."
As for whether you can make the argument that a team that stays home stands to benefit more financially than one that does go to a bowl, Marinatto said, "I don’t know if you can. I shouldn’t speak for major conferences. But for us anyway, you’re provided with a lump sum of dollars and that lump sum was designed by us at our annual meetings because of what we thought the projected costs were. Now the issue I think that’s come up was selling tickets.
"And that’s really what mitigated the dollars, if you don’t sell the tickets, and that’s where other conferences have a mechanism in place. I think if you look at what the Big East Conference pays, and I know this is the case because I’ve reviewed all the figures, what we pay for going to a bowl game is bigger than what any other conference pays for going to a bowl game. It’s just the equation is distorted I think when you don’t look at the overall dollars and just look at the amount we pay, especially when you deal with the question of unsold tickets."