SBD/December 30, 2013/Colleges

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  • Online Bowl Game Ticket Discounts Undercut Schools, Conferences Selling Full-Price Seats

    Online discount ticket sellers said that they procure tickets from college bowl games themselves, "creating a dual economy when it comes to lower-tier bowl games," according to a front-page piece by Brent Schrotenboer of USA TODAY. The Holiday Bowl to fill empty seats "tried a new strategy, offering $80 seats for $40 through an online discounter." But Texas Tech and Arizona State, the schools playing in the game, as well as their respective conferences, "are required by contract to buy 10,400 full-price tickets at $70 to $90 each." If they "can't find enough buyers, they're stuck with the full-price cost anyway." Schools and conferences over the last five seasons "absorbed more than $92 million in losses on full-price bowl tickets that went unsold, causing many participating teams to lose money on bowl trips." Florida State last season reported to the NCAA that it was "'very dissatisfied' about having to buy 17,500 full-price tickets to play in the Orange Bowl." FSU "sold a small portion of that allotment and needed help" from the ACC to pay $2.1M for unsold tickets. The loss "caused FSU to exceed its expense allowance" by $1.4M, and the school "cited the easy availability of cheaper tickets as a reason." Schrotenboer: "If anybody should take the blame for the unsold tickets, it might be the teams' league representatives, who made a big gamble on prearranged ticket allotments when they agreed to multiyear contracts with the bowls." In retrospect, the leagues "overestimated the number of tickets their teams could sell." They also "might have been willing to take the financial risk in exchange for a guaranteed block of premium seats and a bigger guaranteed payout." The leagues in their new multiyear bowl contracts starting next year "asked for much lower ticket commitment requirements, cutting them by a quarter or half" (USA TODAY, 12/30).

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  • AAC Planning To Withhold Rutgers' Bowl Payout Until Exit Fee Dispute Is Settled

    The "acrimony between Rutgers and the American Athletic Conference ratcheted up Saturday when the league told school officials it intends to withhold the $1.5 million Pinstripe Bowl payment because of the ongoing legal dispute" over the school's exit fee, according to a source cited by Tom Luicci of the Newark STAR-LEDGER. Rutgers has "filed suit against the AAC ... contesting the exit fee of $10 million the league says the school owes for leaving for the Big Ten next fall." The suit was "transferred in November to Rhode Island, where the league is based." The threat of withholding $1.5M "could become moot if the two sides reach a settlement on Rutgers’ lawsuit against the league in the next few months, since bowl payments are not made to schools until the spring." Rutgers also is "suing the league for lost revenue because of a canceled home game against TCU, which was scheduled to join the Big East but never did." Rutgers has "estimated that loss of revenue" at $1.3M. In addition, the school claims it has not received its share of $39M "that was collected from various exit fees" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 12/29).

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