BCS Bowls Are Not Necessarily Big Money-Makers

The Cincinnati Enquirer recently highlighted the risk-reward venture of the costs and revenues associated with the University of Cincinnati’s (UC) expected selection to compete in a Bowl Championship Series bowl in January as the football champion of the Big East conference.  While the BCS pays out $17.5 million per school competing in one of the five bowls, UC’s agreement with the Big East requires it share the revenue among each of the eight football schools.  According to the paper, the most revenue that UC could possibly generate is $2 million plus travel expenses of $200 for every mile between campus and the bowl game site.

However, each school will also be required to sell an allotment of tickets, or absorb the costs of tickets that do not sell.  By comparison, the paper noted that West Virginia University sold or used 9,300 of its allotted 17,500 tickets to last year’s Orange Bowl and was required to absorb the cost of the remaining tickets that did not sell.  Things may fare better, for UC, this year:  when it traveled to last year’s Papajohns.com Bowl, the Bearcats received $1 million for participating in the game and another $93,800 to cover the 469-mile travel distance.  “At end of day, we probably netted out somewhere between $300,000 and $400,000,” according to UC deputy athletic director, Bob Arkeilpane.

The paper also reported that the University of Cincinnati athletic department began the 2009 fiscal year with an estimated $2.469 million budget deficit.