|Florida State's ACC championship win over Georgia Tech came at a financial cost. (US Presswire)|
It's no secret that the scourge of ticket guarantees have made lower-rung bowl games (or sometimes, even BCS bowls) a far bigger financial hazard than financial boon for most college football teams. But those coveted, lucrative league championship games are a different animal, right?
Not necessarily, according to a Friday report from Florida State Rivals affiliate Warchant, which revealed that the Seminoles' appearance in last December's ACC Championship Game left the football program with a net loss just shy of $479,000.
The principal culprit? Those same ticket guarantees, which saw the Seminole administration responsible for selling some $770,000 worth of tickets. Between the trip to Charlotte, N.C., the unappealing opponent (6-6 Georgia Tech) and the dispiriting recent loss to Florida, FSU fans apparently weren't all that excited about the game -- and many who were likely turned to the heavy discounts available on the secondary market.
The final result, according to the income report obtained by Warchant, was that the Seminoles sold only 2,033 of their 10,000 alotted tickets and generated only $185,000 in sales. Despite some reimbursement assistance from the ACC itself, the ticket situation alone left FSU more than $440,000 in the hole.
From the Seminole perspective, at least their 2012 experience was something of a recent anomaly; an ACC spokesperson confirmed that the league had not been asked to make ticket reimbursement payments after either the 2010 or 2011 games (the 2010 version of which also featured FSU in Charlotte). And the income report doesn't take into account the boost the title game adds to the ACC's television contract, which, in turn, boosts the ACC's overall payout to its member schools.
But positives or not, if even Florida State winds up taking a bath on an ACC Championship Game, it's a good bet the negatives mean other teams -- think Boston College and Virginia Tech, whose 2008 rematch in Tampa, Fla., drew only 27,360 fans -- have taken the same bath before. Per Warchant, an ACC spokesperson confirmed that commissioner John Swofford "has already initiated internal talks about a plan to assure that no school participating in the league's championship game suffer any financial loss because of an appearance."
That seems like the smart, fair move. But it might be too late for, say, the Eagles -- and it's worth asking if any kind of similar deal is in place in other conferences that might run into the same problems.
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