SBD/August 30, 2011/Colleges

Univ. Of South Carolina, ECU Expected To Split $2M From Neutral Site CFB Game

ECU will give $300,000 to South Carolina for backing out of '08 game
The Univ. of South Carolina and East Carolina Univ. “will split approximately $2 million in revenue" from Saturday's college football game at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, according to Ron Morris of the Columbia STATE. ECU will “then take $300,000 of its profits and send it to USC as payment for reneging on an earlier contract.” USC home games at Williams-Brice Stadium “usually generate in the neighborhood of $2.1 million for the athletics department.” A road game against a school like ECU might allow USC “a guarantee in the $250,000 to $300,000 range," but a neutral site game “can generate around $2 million profit to be split between the schools.” As a result, USC and ECU “agreed on May 31, 2007 to play six games -- three in Columbia (2008, 2012 and 2016), two in Charlotte (2011 and 2014) and one in Greenville, N.C. (2015).” The first game “never happened,” so Saturday's game “is the beginning of a five-game series between the two programs.” The game will “fall short of a sellout, but the expected crowd of approximately 55,000 will still produce a nice profit for both programs.” Raycom Sports President & CEO Ken Haines, whose company is managing the game, said, "Given the economy, it's the first game of the season, that's not bad." All tickets were $60 apiece, "meaning approximately $3 million was generated in ticket sales.” After expenses, each school is “expected to take home at least $1 million, perhaps more” (Columbia STATE, 8/28).

ROOT FOR THE HOME TEAM: Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game President & CEO Gary Stokan said that the “late nature of arranging this year’s matchup” between the Univ. of Georgia and Boise State “slowed the sales cycle at first, but the addition of a local school, Georgia, gave them a push that has led to an uptick in secondary sponsorship sales.” Stokan: “The growth of the game in the overall college marketplace has really helped us, and companies have stepped up. We’re fortunate that sales are up this year and certainly having Georgia helped, but it’s also the growth of the franchise itself” (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 8/29 issue). In Atlanta, Tim Tucker examines how Stokan arranged this year's Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game under the header, "How The UGA-Boise State Matchup Happened." Stokan unsuccessfully tried to land the annual Georgia-Florida game, then Georgia-Georgia Tech and finally Georgia Tech-Univ. of Southern California. He said, "This one was the most challenging of all to put together. We had to have a lot of help from a lot of people" (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 8/30). SBJ's Michael Smith in this week's issue also takes a look into how the game was put together.

LIBERTY FOR ALL? In Memphis, Geoff Calkins notes the Univ. of Memphis has offered a free pair of tickets for Thursday's football game against Mississippi State to "everyone who contributed to the Tiger Scholarship Fund.” UM AD R.C. Johnson said school officials are "expecting between 30,000 and 35,000" fans for the opener at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium. Calkins writes, "Stop and think for a moment about what that means. The Tigers are papering the house for their opener. They are having to give away tickets for a home game against Mississippi State.” UM athletic department officials have made an "astonishing mess" of the football program. Calkins: "All over the country, football is king. … Memphis has somehow managed to ride this wave of passion to a place of utter irrelevance” (Memphis COMMERICAL APPEAL, 8/30).
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