I mean, who didn’t see this coming?
Pitt has distributed between 2,000 and 3,000 tickets, athletics department spokesman E.J. Borghetti said. Borghetti declined to say how many have been sold and how many are allocated for free, such as to staff members, band members, cheerleaders and players’ families.
Kentucky media relations director Tony Neely reported the school’s ticket sales at 4,000. He also did not elaborate on the number sold compared to distributed.
Both teams had disappointing seasons. Kentucky has suspended their senior starting QB for the game. Pitt is in a coaching turnover, and fired/reassigned/resigned Coach Wannstedt still has not decided if he is coaching this team. (Wannstedt is starting to piss me off about this. I get that he is still upset over everything, but he is screwing around with his own players by refusing to make a decision yet.)
Locally the BBVA Bowl officials are claiming record local sales. It’s not like the bowl will lose money. Kentucky and Pitt, however, are poised to take a bath. Well, Pitt is.
For example, if Pitt has only sold 2,000 tickets to its fans, then it’s currently looking at a $400,000 loss through ticket sales. That doesn’t factor in shared bowl revenue from the Big East.
“I recently spoke to a number of our football alumni who currently live in the south,” Borghetti said. “Because they aren’t able to make it to Pittsburgh on a regular basis, they are taking advantage of the BBVA Compass Bowl opportunity to plan some team reunions and functions. So we are very confident that Pitt will be well represented with a spirited fan base that is looking forward to the game and all that Birmingham has to offer.”
The SEC has a bowl revenue protection insurance plan for unsold tickets by its members. According to league bylaws, “the cost of unused tickets up to 3,000 tickets for games with a ticket guarantee under 15,000 tickets, and up to 4,000 tickets for games with a ticket guarantee of 15,000 tickets or above, shall be deducted prior to conference distribution.”
For instance, the Knoxville News-Sentinel reported that Tennessee would have lost more than $225,000 for not selling all of its tickets to the 2008 Outback Bowl if not for the $196,950 it received from the SEC insurance plan.
The ticket insurance sounds like a good idea, but considering the number of SEC teams that have no such problem selling tickets, the overall risk is significantly lower and the premiums would be feasible. For the Big East, given how few teams have shown the ability to consistently sell their allotment — and this year has been even worse — the premiums would probably make any possible savings minimal. Even WVU is struggling this year.
In a purely observational from the comfort of my couch, it has looked like most of the bowl games so far have had a lot of empty seats and I won’t be too surprised to see even more. While the condition of the economy is a convenient excuse, I don’t completely buy it. I think it has more to do with a lot more fans weary of the annual cost of the travel and less willing to shell out for such minor bowl games.
This is not a BCS/playoff rant. It just seems obvious that there are too many bowls at this point. They have started to devalue the worth for fans to make the trip. Why should a fan want to spend the money to go to anything but the conference’s best tie-in or BCS bid? The costs, the travel, etc. Instead it is far easier and potentially just as fun to stay and watch with a bunch of friends at someone’s house or at a bar.
It’s driven by the TV money for ESPN, anyways. They have control over a ton of the bowl games themselves. Not to mention the TV rights to all but two bowl games. They make money hand-over-fist on the telecasts. Which is the major reason for so many of them now.
I think many schools would love to decline the minor bowl bids if they could. The financial losses are painful, and skipping a year or two would realistically drive up demand by the fan base when they did accept a bid.
Coaches however would scream about missing out on extra practices. About denying the kids any reward for their season. Then there would be the backlash about the schools being cheap. So the whole thing keeps going.