The Times West Virginian

February 12, 2012

WVU loss on Orange Bowl less than expected

By Bob Hertzel
Times West Virginian

MORGANTOWN — While West Virginia University will show a financial loss on its trip to the Orange Bowl, where it pounded Clemson, 70-33, the loss will not be anywhere near what they had anticipated going in, according to deputy director of athletics Mike Parsons.

While all the final numbers are not yet in, Parsons has enough information to know that the loss will be closer to $300,000 than the $1 million they originally had projected.

“The numbers are looking better than we anticipated,” Parson said.

Two years ago Connecticut was the Big East’s representative to the BCS and lost a staggering $1.7 million at the Fiesta Bowl.

“We did a good job of hold costs down,” Parsons explained. “We knew there were some big expenses, particularly as it relates to hotels and meals.”

If you stay at a luxury resort like the Fontainbleu, as the Mountaineer group did, you pay exorbitant rates, both for room and food, even given a rate.

One of the biggest expenses, however, was tickets. The Orange Bowl makes the participants purchase 17,500 tickets each at full cost and they have to take their team’s allotment out of that — including player, official party, families and band.

The rest they attempt to sell but this year, with the game played mid-week and coming as it did on Jan. 4 rather than on the holiday weekend, WVU could not move its tickets.

They wound up eating about 9,000 tickets, which at $75 a ticket cost them $675,000, or was the difference between making money or losing it.

On the surface it appears difficult to imagine that a bowl that pays out $18 million could have its participants lose money, but that is due to the formula that is used by the Big East, which distributes the money equally among all teams from all bowl games.

“Part of it is revenue distribution,” Parsons said. “We know what our number will be, $2,222,000 out of the Orange Bowl. The conference could decide that $5 million goes to the team that participates, but instead in the Big East it is done through revenue sharing.”

WVU expects it will do better when it is a member of the Big 12, which still remains on hold although a verbal agreement has been reached.

“The Big 12 payouts are similar, but we like them better the way they do it,” Parsons said. “They buy the tickets instead of the school, but they also get the money for selling them. Still, we’re not on the hook for 17,500 tickets.”

The Big 12 bowls are also superior to the Big East’s.

In addition to a BCS bowl bid, the Big 12 offers the Cotton Bowl, a one-time major bowl in Dallas, as its No. 2 bowl, then has the Alamo, Holiday, Insight,.com, Pinstripe at Yankee Stadium, and the Texas Bowl.

Email Bob Hertzel at bhertzel@hotmail.com and follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/bhertzel.