One of the more enlightening parts of the book Death to the BCS wasn't the fact that college football could have a playoff that would be incredibly successful financially. This is something that anybody with common sense could figure out. No, when I read the book it was seeing exactly how much money that schools actually make by going to bowl games.
Or, as is the case quite a few times, how much money that schools can lose going to a bowl game.
Something that, at the moment, it looks like UConn is going to experience first hand. Yes, the chance to go to a BCS game is exciting for the program as it gives the school some national exposure, but it also means that the school has a lot of tickets and hotel rooms to sell, and it looks like it's having some trouble doing that.
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, with the exception of the 150 rooms at the Westin Kierland Resort and Spa, where UConn is on the hook for only half of money owed on unsold rooms at the $225-a-night hotel.
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.
Those 4,000 tickets that UConn has sold? That means the school still has 13,500 more to go. Obviously, the economy has a lot to do with this. Most UConn fans just don't have the money to buy tickets and fly across the country and stay a few days right now, and those who do can surely find tickets cheaper elsewhere.
The school has started an ad campaign to encourage fans to travel to the game, even having coach Randy Edsall warn everybody that "this might be the only Fiesta Bowl we go to." Sounds encouraging doesn't it?
I get the feeling there are going to be quite a few empty seats in Glendale next month.
Photo courtesy of New Haven Register