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Volume 24 No. 158


Rutgers plays Virginia Tech next Friday at the Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando and "in a strictly financial sense, both teams will likely be losers," according to a front-page piece by Sherman & Renshaw of the Newark STAR-LEDGER. The two schools are "expected to eat thousands of dollars in unsold or free seats, adding to the cost of an already expensive post-season showcase experts say is rarely profitable for teams." Sherman & Renshaw cite NCAA records that report that schools nationwide last year were "saddled with $12.8 million in bowl tickets that went unsold or were given away -- up more than $1 million from the previous year." Rutgers under its bowl contract must "buy 12,500 seats" and so far, it only has "sold 5,550." Moreover, Virginia Tech AD Jim Weaver last week said that the school has "sold fewer than 3,000 tickets." Florida Citrus Sports CEO & Russell Athletic Bowl Chair Steve Hogan said that sales on the secondary market "affects both bowl organizers and the schools, based on the demand for tickets." Officials said that the teams that "end up in the Russell Athletic Bowl get about $1.5 million." Yet the logistics and travel costs to play a big bowl "often far exceed any allowance allocated by the conferences." Furthermore, most college coaches and their staffs "have hefty incentive bonuses built into their contracts for bowl appearances." West Virginia Univ. in the '12 Orange Bowl "earned a lopsided 70-33 victory over Clemson, but came away with a $217,000 loss after all its expenses were tabulated." While the university received a $2.2M expense allowance from its conference, it "spent more than $2.4 million" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 12/21).

MONETARY MILITARY: In DC, Ben Fischer wrote the Military Bowl in less than five years "has grown into a viable, albeit modest, contribution to the region’s sports business economy, tourism industry and military-related charities." Struggles "persist to lure schools with business-friendly fan bases, but independent experts say the contest is better positioned than most of its peers in the lower tier of bowl games to thrive amid a rapidly changing landscape." DC Bowl Committee President & Exec Dir Steve Beck projected that the organization will "end this fiscal year with money in the bank for the first time ever." Sources said that the bowl "secured a big victory when Northrop Grumman Corp. bought the naming rights away from Bethesda-based EagleBank in 2010." Aside from "bringing a national brand to the game, the defense contractor agreed to 'presented by' status, rather than naming the bowl after the company." Sponsorship revenue overall "has more than tripled to $1.26 million in two years since the name change." But the bowl's future "could hang in the balance after the 2013 season." Beck said that the bowl "hopes to keep ties with the ACC and will pursue more prestigious, stable arrangements with other conferences" (WASHINGTON BUSINESS JOURNAL, 12/14 issue).

Univ. of Minnesota officials are "wrestling with a slide in season-ticket sales in another high-profile sport -- men's basketball" after spending the fall "looking at thousands of empty game-day football seats at TCF Bank Stadium," according to Mike Kaszuba of the Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE. Non-student season-ticket sales at Williams Arena have "fallen from 9,286 in 2007 to 7,136 this year, and student season-ticket sales have also slumped," with the current number of 1,182 sold "at a six-year low." Lowered fan interest "might have been accelerated this year by a new, expanded season-ticket plan that charges fans an additional $400 preferred seating fee for a $627 season ticket." Minnesota AD Norwood Teague said, "We may have had a little bit, a small amount, of attrition. I'm confident we can turn this around." University officials said that after "selling 10,248 student season tickets for football in 2009, the team's first season in on-campus TCF Bank Stadium, they sold only 3,888 this year." University officials said that new revenue raised by the preferred seating program instituted this year was "about $815,000 for men's basketball ($401,000) and men's hockey ($414,000)." Athletic Communications Dir Garry Bowman said that the increased revenue from the two sports is "close to making up for the loss in ticket revenue resulting from the drop in season tickets" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 12/19).