As you might have heard today, UConn is probably going to take a bath on the Fiesta Bowl. The New Haven Register had the story this morning, and its made its way around to a few other places since then. The important bits:
But the fact is it's quite expensive to transport, feed and lodge an entire football program, including the band, cheerleaders and school administrators, to Phoenix - during New Year's weekend, no less.
And then there's the little matter of ticket allocation. 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. ...
Whether UConn maximizes its revenue opportunity will depend on the amount of tickets it can sell. The school will almost certainly take a bath. As of Monday night, only 4,000 tickets had been sold, meaning UConn was still holding roughly $2.5 million in unsold tickets.
If you're surprised by this news, welcome to the ugly world of big time bowls where most schools lose money while the bowls and TV networks make out like bandits. This type of story usually appears in the Courant a week or two after the bowl presented like so: "BREAKING: UConn lost money on football", so at least the Register had the decency to get the freakout over with ahead of time.
UConn apparently broke even last year and got what the Register calls a "modest profit" for the Meineke and International Bowls. If memory serves, modest profit is something like $100,000, so were not talking too much.
The bowl system is pretty damn screwed up, and that's just how it is. I hope it changes, but in the meantime, this is what we're stuck with.
If you're looking for something to blame, you can always point to the incredibly high cost from flying from Hartford to Phoenix (it gets a little better from New York or Boston, but not really), plus the cost of hotels, tickets, rental cars (you need one in Phoenix) and all that other fun stuff.
I'll throw out one other reason that UConn hasn't sold a lot of tickets: the BCS National Title game. If fans weren't able to buy tickets through either Auburn or Oregon, one of your only options was buying a package that included tickets to the Insight Bowl, Fiesta Bowl and the BCS title game. What does that mean? It means that there are a bunch of extra tickets flooding the market that were bought by fans that had no interest in the Fiesta, or in being in Phoenix on Jan. 1. That means tickets that cost $150 from UConn will be $25 on stubhub, and that'll siphon off some of UConn's ability to sell tickets.
I love the Huskies as much as anyone, but if you're trying to plan a bowl trip that will run you more than a grand, it's tough to pony up an extra $125 to the school because of Randy Edsall's pleas for support.