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ABC SEEKING $400M EXTENSION WITH BCS? EARLY BOWL NUMBERS
Published January 4, 2000
ABC is reportedly offering the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) a four-year contract extension worth "about" $400M, according to Scott Newman of BLOOMBERG NEWS. A "high- ranking college athletic official" said that the BCS "could wait until August" to consider ABC's offer, but will "probably unveil an agreement with ABC by April." Newman noted the contract extension "would probably ensure that major college football couldn't decide its national champion with a playoff until 2006." But ISL Exec VP Jim Wheeler, whose company is seeking a national playoff format, is "working on a last-ditch proposal he hopes to present" to the BCS and athletic directors later this month. Wheeler said that he will propose an eight-team format that would include a total payout of at least $1B (BLOOMBERG NEWS, 1/3). Wheeler: "When [BCS Chair] Roy Kramer says he's not going to let a foreign company run the football championship, that doesn't bother me. I don't want to run it. I want to be a commercial partner" (USA TODAY, 12/31). USA TODAY's Rudy Martzke noted the $400M figure will increase ABC's annual payments to the BCS 27% from the current $78.57M to $100M. ABC Sports Dir of PR Mark Mandel "declined comment" on the report (USA TODAY, 1/3). BUT ARE THE FANS SHOWING UP? Attendance at 21 of college football's 24 bowl games "dipped on average from a year ago, most notably on New Year's Day." Attendance for the bowl games played prior to Sunday's Fiesta Bowl, excluding the first-year Mobile Alabama bowl, "averaged 52,448, down slightly from 53,372 a year earlier." But the six games played New Year's Day averaged 64,876 fans, a "startling" 10.5% drop from last year's average of nearly 72,500. Peach Bowl President Gary Stokan: "They're getting no coverage outside the areas their (participating) teams represent." But USA TODAY noted that overall attendance is "virtually unchanged" from the "pre-BCS" '97 season (USA TODAY, 1/3). In K.C., Blair Kerkhoff reported that none of the four New Year's Day bowl games held in FL "filled the stadium." While the Cotton Bowl "was filled to capacity" and the Fiesta Bowl "was sold out," the Rose Bowl, "which was listed as a sellout," drew its "smallest crowd" since '55 with 93,731. The Gator Bowl drew 43,416, its smallest crowd since '58, while the Orange Bowl drew 54,866, 20,000 short of capacity (K.C. STAR, 1/2). In Miami, Linda Robertson reported that the "bowl glut needs to be addressed" (MIAMI HERALD, 1/2).