Desmond Conner of the Hartford Courant reports that UConn lost $1,663,560 in its Bowl Championship Series (BCS) game loss to Oklahoma on January 1. Although UConn certainly enjoyed numerous intangible benefits from the football program’s first appearance in a BCS bowl, the financial picture is not pretty.
The loss is largely due to the Fiesta Bowl’s requirement that UConn purchase a significant block of tickets, regardless of whether a demand for these tickets existed. According to the Daily Campus, UConn sold only 2,771 out of an allotment of 17,500 tickets, resulting in the university absorbing 14,729 tickets worth $2,924,385. The lack of revenue from ticket sales was due to the fact that the game took place in Arizona, and the secondary market was selling tickets below face value.
The BCS bowl ticket policy certainly appears to be one-sided. The BCS has created a post-season structure which essentially determines the bowl match-ups. Yet it requires the schools to guarantee ticket sales, even if a school such as UConn is traveling across the country. The schools must accept the risk to participate in a bowl, which typically means that the schools break even or lose money. Of course the schools do receive a large sum of money from the BCS, which in UConn’s case is evenly divided among the Big East teams per the conference agreement.
Fair or unfair, schools such as UConn must play by BCS rules if they want to play on the biggest stage. And UConn learned that the price of admission to big time college football is high.