FanPost

College Bowl System Loots Universities

...is the name of an article that can be found HERE.

While this is a piece written from a point of view that I don't necessarily share, it does lay out a lot of details on the mechanics of the current bowl game system. And it's some shady shit.

I post this now because some of the other bowl game topics have seen criticisms of the tickets being sold by the Cal ATO for the Holiday Bowl. And while the Cal ticket purchasing channel itself can easily be imagined to be streamlined with additional (or just different) resources, it has been hard for me to make much sense of the criticisms of the specific tickets being provided.

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This isn't 'Nam. This is bowling. There are rules.

As the article describes, Cal is contractually required to purchase an allotment of bowl game tickets (11k for the Holiday Bowl) at full price to participate. As far as I know, there is no negotiation allowed; the allotment is something set by the bowl committee and already agreed upon by the conferences. The seat locations, just like the quantity, is fixed long before the schools are selected and directly involved. Cal's role is limited to selling them or eating them.

The specific challenge here is to sell less-than-prime (largely end zone and upper deck) tickets for full price when there are a large number of better tickets available on the secondary market that were obtained for next-to-nothing by people with little attachment to the specific teams. The best "sell" our ATO has is that you are seated with other Cal fans. If this doesn't matter to you, well, it's a tough sell.

From the article,

THE BIGGEST SCAM is the bulk ticket purchases.

Depending upon the bowl, schools are required to buy anywhere from 10,000 to 17,500 up front. So begins the seasonal hemorrhaging.

The deal starts with a presumption of failure. Even powerhouses like Ohio State rarely sell that many. When the Buckeyes played the Fiesta Bowl in 2009, they failed to sell more than 7,000 seats. Price for this bath: $1 million.

Auburn, last year's national champion, was still stuck with $781,000 in unsold tickets from the title game. What's worse is that the seats depreciate from the moment of purchase. Though crowds for most games are a smattering of capacity, the schools still pay bloated face-value prices. Their "friends" aren't about to grant them bulk discounts.

So when the colleges can't sell these seats to their fans, the market is flooded with more than 200,000 bowl tickets a year.

Prudent fans of UCLA, for example, know better than to buy hefty-priced seats from the school. After all, a ticket broker will soon be pushing the same seats for dimes on the dollar. Stub Hub once famously sold tickets to the Music City Bowl in Nashville for just 19 cents.

So while Connecticut may have won the Big East championship last year, it still failed to sell 14,729 seats to the Fiesta Bowl. The bowl charged the Huskies prices ranging from $111 to $268 a ticket. Stub Hub, meanwhile, was offering them at 20 bucks a pop.

The ticket scheme alone leaves schools awash in red ink. Virginia Tech lost $400,000 on last year's trip to the Orange Bowl, despite getting $1.2 million from the ACC. Though Auburn claimed last season's BCS crown, financial records show it still lost $600,000, even after a $2.2 million bailout from the Southeastern Conference.

Some bowls have also found a way to scam schools on hotels. Since the bowls usually arrange lodging, athletic directors assume their "friends" are negotiating the best group deals. But that's not always the case.

Under Junker's rule, the Fiesta Bowl required schools to purchase 3,750 room-nights at about $200 a pop. According to the contract, the schools had to pay whether they used them or not.

But what Junker wasn't telling his "friends" was that he'd arranged a side deal with the Scottsdale Convention & Visitors Bureau. In exchange for funneling teams to Scottsdale resorts, the city's tourism arm agreed to kick the Fiesta Bowl $8.2 million over the 20-year pact, according to a contract discovered by the Arizona Republic.

The Sugar Bowl also received "voluntary commissions" from New Orleans hotels. Other bowls have been accused of similar arrangements.

The article does allow that some conferences mitigate the damage by buying unpurchased seats from their schools. So the end result is not necessarily as bad as the language here indicates.

But this is the system. And the schools pay to play in this system, for better AND for worse. And we, the fans, should try to direct our criticisms towards the appropriate entities.

That is, it ain't all the Cal ATO's fault.

The opinions expressed in a FanPost are, in every way, reflective of the opinions of every California Golden Blogs Marshawnthusiast. Moreover, they are reflective of every employee of SBNation, including Tyler "Blez" Bleszinski.

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