If fans of any school was due to show up in droves for a BCS bowl this season, it’d be the UConn faithful.
(UConn demands fans pay full price - despite cheapo tix online)
Right, keeper of the BCS flame Jim Delany?
Apparently not, as Chip Malafronte of the NEW HAVEN REGISTER reports on the financial armageddon UConn is facing after backing into a BCS Bowl thanks to its Big East Conference affiliation.
Appearing in the Fiesta Bowl means UConn is on the hook financially for a whopping 17,000 game tickets. Among other things.
The Fiesta Bowl distributed 17,500 tickets to UConn, and the school is responsible to sell them all. The cheapest of those tickets cost $111 (in the lower end zone) and can cost as much as $268 for club level.
UConn also has a hotel obligation — a total of 550 rooms at three different hotels ranging in price from $125-225 a night, not including tax, with blocks reserved for either three or seven nights.
Additional expenses include a chartered flight and meals for the team, staff and 300-member band, as well as a $100,000 bonus to coach Randy Edsall, and smaller bonuses for assistants, per their contracts, for getting the team to a BCS bowl.
Cost of any tickets or hotel rooms that go unfilled are absorbed by the university.
It gets worse:
As of Monday night, only 4,000 tickets had been sold, meaning UConn was still holding roughly $2.5 million in unsold tickets.
That enormous financial loss has Randy Edsall reduced to begging fans to buy full-priced tickets - while also footing the accompanying travel costs - despite the fact that ticket brokers are hawking Fiesta Bowl seats online for $18.
“If you have the opportunity and the wherewithal to make it happen, (you) should make it happen, because this is a once in a lifetime experience for the most part. This might be the only Fiesta Bowl we go to. We hope it’s not,but if you have the opportunity to go, (you) should spend the money and go.”
There’s a vote of confidence for the program.
Last year, UConn fans bought 2,900 tickets to the PapaJohns.com Bowl in Birmingham at $40-a-pop.
Despite that, the Register reported, “the largest single-line expense, according to bowl expense reports sent to the NCAA, was $283,360 in absorbed tickets.”
With the Fiesta Bowl as meaningful a game as that Pizza Bowl - and the backyard game your family annually plays at Thanksgiving - absolutely no one should be surprised at the financial debacle now facing UConn.
Next question: How much of those losses incurred by UConn, a public school, will be covered by taxpayer funds?
Shame. But what can you do? It isn’t like the NCAA is leaving a $1,000,000,000 per year on the table by not agreeing to stage a college football playoff.
Right Coach Delany?
UPDATE: Andy Staples notes that 26 percent of the annual UConn athletic budget is covered by taxpayer dollars.
So it’s a pretty safe bet that tax money will go to pay for thousands of unsold Fiesta Bowl tickets.
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