Big East

University of Connecticut May Lose Money Due to Fiesta Bowl

| by Alex Groberman

College football bowl games are great. After all, with payouts from these games reportedly reaching the $17 million mark – the schools that get the opportunity to play in them must be rolling in dough.

Or not.

According to the University of Connecticut, which will play Oklahoma on January 1 in the Fiesta Bowl, there is a very real chance the school will end up losing money as a result of this so-called honor.  

As per the Big East Conference revenue-sharing system, bowl-eligible members must pool their bowl money and divide it based on a tier. Essentially, Connecticut receives around $2.5 million, excluding expenses for travel costs. Then, they also get a cut of other revenue streams like television dollars.

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All in all, the total figure that the school is likely to see is $3 million.

The problem, though, is that between the costs associated with transporting, feeding and lodging the entire football team and all that come with them (band, cheerleaders) – the bottom line ends up being not-too-pretty at the end of the day.

On top of the expected expenses, the University is also dealing with 17,500 Fiesta Bowl tickets they must sell. If they are unable to sell any of those tickets, the school must eat them and incur the loss. With the cheapest ticket costing $111, it’s easy to see why selling seats may be a slight problem.

Then there is the hotel obligation. A total of 550 rooms at three different hotels ranging in price from $125-$225 a night -- with blocks reserved for either three or seven nights -- must be taken into consideration. Couple that with expenses that including chartered flights, meals for the team, staff and the rest (band, cheerleaders) -- and you start seeing how a bowl game like the Fiesta Bowl may possibly be more trouble than it’s worth.

All of the aforementioned figures don’t even take the $100,000 bonus to head coach Randy Edsall and small bonuses for assistants that are paid out for the team reaching the bowl game into account.

As of this past Monday, only 4,000 seats had been sold and the University of Connecticut still has nearly $2.5 million in unsold tickets.