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Florida’s Bowl Costs Show Why Major Conferences Are Changing The System

empty_pocketsWhen the SEC and Big XII announced that they would be partnering up to create their own new “Champions Bowl,” it marked a new day in the history of college football’s bowl system.  A good day for conferences and schools.  A bad day for bowl games.

Eventually, the Sugar Bowl beat out the Cotton Bowl to become the “Champions Bowl” (which will first be played in 2014).  The top teams from the SEC and Big XII not already in the College Football Playoff will meet in New Orleans.  For the first time, the vast majority of revenue from a bowl game will go to the leagues, not the game.

More conferences are now mulling whether or not to create their own games or — as the SEC and Big XII have done in New Orleans — partially take over an existing one.  So why make such a massive shift in the college football bowl structure?  Just look to this past year’s Sugar Bowl.

In January an 11-1 Florida team was invited to New Orleans to play Louisville.  The Gators appeared no more excited about facing the Cardinals than their fans did about watching that game.  Louisville won the contest.  Few UF fans showed up in the Superdome to witness it.

Florida sold fewer than 7,000 of the 17,500 tickets that were allotted to the school.  “Allotted” is an interesting word when it comes to bowl talk.  While it sounds like a gift of some sort, the reality is that Florida was on the hook to buy each of those 17,500 tickets.  Meaning the school had to eat about 10,000 tickets.  And that played a large role in Florida losing $840,000 for its trip to last season’s Sugar Bowl.

Some reward.

As it negotiates new contracts with all of its existing bowl partners — and potential new bowl partners — the SEC is pushing for lower ticket guarantees.  That change has already been built into the new playoff.  The major bowls in the College Football Playoff will require only 12,500 tickets to be sold rather than the 17,500 required by the Sugar Bowl.

Once the new SEC/Big XII co-owned Sugar Bowl launches after next season, the leagues will have a working model to represent their vision a new conference-bowl relationship.  That will give the biggest conferences even more leverage over the bowls and — if the game’s a money-maker — even more incentive to rejigger the entire college football bowl system.

 


6 comments
NatanElias
NatanElias

If Florida didn't want to be there, why did it accept?  Enough SEC money came in to easily cover the tickets.  The bowls have to cover their expenses too, the reason for the allotments.

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator

@NatanElias 

You probably need to tell that to the conferences, because -- as noted above -- they're pushing those ticket guarantees lower and lower.

Thanks for reading the site,

John

guest20132013
guest20132013

John, The Big 12 should be written without the roman numerals. 

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator

@guest20132013 

I've debated that a number of times but since they use great big Roman numerals as their league logo -- it's featured prominently on the league's website, in fact -- I'm sticking with Big XII for now.

It's bad branding on the league's part.  It's either the Big 12 or the Big XII and it shouldn't be both.  Meaning either the domain name or the logo needs to change.

Thanks for reading the site,

John

AM a Carolina fan
AM a Carolina fan

Not certain why there should be any allotments. After sitting in the lower-corner end-zone seats in bowl games several years, we will never again purchase tickets through the university. You can get significantly better seats, usually at better prices by buying through the bowl itself or on the secondary market.

DanHogan
DanHogan

@AM a Carolina fan That's the piece that has changed over the years.  We have so many more options for buying tickets than before.  It used to be your first call for bowl tickets was your school.  Now, it's stubhub. 

As a Big Ten fan who is used to playing games out of region, I hope there is some effort to group fans of the same team together to some extent.  It is always fun to sit in a far-away place like that with fans of your own team. 

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