Sunday, October 24, 2021

U tries to calculate bowl game expenses

December 6, 2001

MSU officials have yet to determine if the school will take a financial hit for participating in the Silicon Valley Football Classic in San Jose, Calif., on Dec. 31.

In conjunction with MSU’s acceptance of the bowl bid Sunday, the university agreed to pay $550,000 to cover the corporate sponsorship fees and tickets.

About $300,000 will be set aside for the sponsorship fees and the rest will go to cover MSU’s ticket allotment, said John Lewandowski, MSU’s assistant athletics director.

There’s also a chance the Big Ten could help foot the bill, because it has done so for past bowl games.

If history is any indication of MSU’s success in making a profit on bowl games, then all signs point to another significant financial loss.

In 1997, a year in which the Spartans also finished the regular season 6-5, MSU lost $310,000 at the Jeep Aloha Bowl and didn’t even have to pay a bowl fee.

Expenses totaled more than $835,000 for the trip, the university also had to repay the Aloha Bowl about $225,000 for approximately 8,000 tickets left unsold, boosting the total expenses to $1.06 million. MSU was paid $750,000 for its appearance.

But Lewandowski said the Silicon Valley Football Classic’s $750,000 payoff for MSU’s bowl appearance, plus the money generated by five other conference teams in bowl games, could make a significant difference this year.

A portion of Illinois, Michigan, Ohio State, Purdue and Iowa’s payoffs - along with MSU’s - will be awarded to each Big Ten team.

Lewandowski said it’s too early to tell whether MSU will end up with a net loss or gain from the bowl trip.

“We have officials out at the bowl site looking into what our costs are going to be,” Lewandowski said. “The team hasn’t made a final determination on travel parties.”

MSU Trustee Joel Ferguson said there are more advantages to MSU going to the bowl game than to stay home because of costs.

“The most successful recruits come to the school the following year (after the bowl game),” Ferguson said. “If you don’t go to the bowl games, you’re not going to get those blue-chip recruits.

“It’s not about the money, it’s much more.”

NCAA spokesman Wallace Renfro said it’s not uncommon for bowl games - especially smaller ones - to charge hefty fees for tickets and sponsorship.

San Jose State’s Spartan Stadium, the site of the Silicon Valley Football Classic, holds about 30,000 fans.

“There are some bowls subsidized by the teams in particular bowls,” Renfro said. “Teams are willing to do that (to participate in the game).”

Although fees are fairly common for bowl games, Renfro doesn’t believe it will escalate much more.

“I don’t think it’s a growing trend,” Renfro said. “The NCAA has nothing to do with the bowls other than that we sanction them.”

MSU’s fan base has responded well since Sunday’s bowl announcement, despite having to travel 2,365 miles to watch the Spartans play their last game of 2001.

The MSU Athletic Ticket Office reported 1,000 of the school’s 5,000-ticket allotment have been sold since Monday - the first day they were available.

Prices range from $30 for end zone seats to $60 for sideline tickets. MSU has 1,000 end zone tickets and 4,000 sideline tickets.

Fans interested in purchasing tickets can call (517) 355-1610 or 1-800-GO-STATE for more information.

Eric Lacy can be reached at lacyeric@msu.edu

Ryan Wallace can be reached at wallac89@msu.edu.

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