Thursday, December 15, 2011

BCS Bust? Bowl teams struggling to sell ticket allotments

BCSLogoMelt4 The Bowl Championship Series events—Sugar, Orange, Fiesta and Rose—are big time bowl games that are supposed to be pairing marquee matchups. Big programs, big games and big halftime shows mean big numbers in attendance, right?

Not so fast, my friend.

So far, Wisconsin and Oregon have sold out their ticket allotments, according to reports from Wisconsin State Journal and the Register Guard. At the Fiesta Bowl, both the Stanford Cardinal and Oklahoma State Cowboys are either sold out or soon will be.

Reports from the Washington Post and ESPN.com’s Big 10 blog show that the Sugar Bowl pairing between Michigan and Virginia Tech isn’t having quite the blast bowl officials thought they would. While Michigan appears close to selling out, Virginia Tech has sold fewer than 10,000 of its 17,500 allotment.

The BCS Championship Game—as usual—is a sellout.

The Orange Bowl might be the cheapest ticket of the non-championship BCS Bowls if trends continue. According to a report in the New York Times, neither Clemson nor West Virginia have sold even half of their 17,500 allotments. Put another way, the two fanbases haven’t sold enough tickets to fill either’s ticket allotment.

While other bowl teams are also struggling with ticket sales (Penn State and Virginia), the BCS bowls are supposed to be the big tickets and the bowls themselves require the participating programs to buy the entire allotment. This means that if the Hokies, Mountaineers and Tigers don’t sell their tickets to their fans, they eat the cost.

Recall that in the 2011 Fiesta Bowl, UConn was unable to sell out its allotment to a game located 2,600 miles from its campus. Add the accommodation allotments (yes, bowls require that too) and the Huskies ended up about $2.0 million in the hole.

Football fans who despise the BCS: Take heed, and let these market forces do what they’re supposed to do. If the schools and conferences affiliated with the bowl behemoths get fed up with bad pairings and financially disastrous events, they’ll make change happen from within.

The people who make up the NCAA membership don’t want a playoff system because they think it would cost them too much money. Let them lose money in bad bowl matchups played thousands of miles away. Let them pay exorbitant ticket prices and buy ridiculously priced accommodations. See if that doesn’t have a way of speaking to the bean counters and pointy heads who think the BCS is just fine.

Money talks, but never so loudly as when it walks away.

Nearly half of the teams playing in the non-championship BCS bowls are at risk of losing big bucks on their holiday travels this season. If that keeps up, things might change, and quickly.

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