Plenty of good seats available: Gophers' bowl ticket sales lagging

  • Article by: PHIL MILLER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 14, 2012 - 11:55 AM

A likely shortfall will bring Wisconsin, Big Ten to the rescue.

hide

MarQueis Gray can find Gophers fans at TCF Bank Stadium, but it might be harder for him at his team’s bowl game in Houston.

Photo: Marlin Levison, Star Tribune file

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

It's not much consolation for a team that hasn't played in the Rose Bowl in a half-century, especially when its biggest rival is about to make the trip to Pasadena for a third consecutive year. But Gophers fans can at least enjoy the fact that part of Wisconsin's $22 million haul from playing on New Year's Day will be spent, at least indirectly, on several thousand tickets to the Meineke Car Care Bowl.

As of Wednesday, Minnesota had sold about 2,000 tickets to the Dec. 28 game in Houston, almost double the number it moved for its last bowl trip, and had sold out one charter flight for boosters with plans to hire another.

"We're reasonably happy with where we're at," athletic department spokesman Garry Bowman said. "We've contacted all our support groups -- the Goal Line Club, our season-ticket holders, student groups on campus -- and we believe we'll move more in the next few weeks."

The university sold just over 1,000 tickets to the 2009 Insight Bowl in Tempe, Ariz., Bowman said, and just under 2,000 for the 2008 Insight Bowl, so "this is about what we expected, maybe a little stronger. And we're not done."

Trouble is, the Gophers had to commit to buying 12,000 tickets, priced between $25 and $75, to secure an invitation for the bowl game against Texas Tech, which has a $1.7 million payout. Along with nearly $1.5 million in travel expenses and other costs, the school would be headed toward a large financial loss by playing in the game -- if not for the Big Ten.

The conference pools all bowl revenues, covers the cost of unsold tickets, pays each team an expense "allowance" that varies by bowl and destination, then divvies up the remainder among member schools. That system effectively means that the massive Rose Bowl paydays -- and BCS at-large paychecks in many years, though not this year -- subsidize trips to lower-paying bowls by Big Ten members. The Badgers' success, in other words, helps prevent the Gophers from losing money.

With only one Big Ten school in a BCS bowl this year and only seven qualified schools overall, the league's postseason revenues will come up well short of the nearly $47 million that 10 members earned from bowl appearances last year. On the other hand, not placing teams in the Little Caesar's Pizza Bowl or other small-payout games figures to actually save the conference some cash.

The more tickets sold, the better, of course. But the Gophers' slow sales are mirrored around the league, after a mostly disappointing Big Ten season. Michigan State, for instance, is at roughly 2,000 tickets sold for its Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl matchup against Texas Christian in Tempe, leaving it with another 9,000 tickets on hand. Purdue was required to buy just 6,000 seats to its Heart of Dallas matchup with Oklahoma State, but has moved only 2,500, according to the Lafayette Journal and Courier.

Nebraska might be the most disappointing Big Ten bowl participant. Cornhuskers fans had expected to be headed to the Rose Bowl, but a 70-31 rout in the Big Ten championship game dropped them into the Capital One Bowl in Orlando. The result, according to the Orlando Sentinel, has been fewer than 4,000 tickets sold out of Nebraska's allotment of 12,500.

Sales at Wisconsin and Michigan are stronger, though. Any dropoff in interest that back-to-back-to-back Rose Bowl appearances might have produced in Madison has been offset by athletic director Barry Alvarez's unusual decision to return to the Wisconsin sideline following the departure of coach Bret Bielema to Arkansas. The Badgers sold more than 15,000 of their 24,000 Rose Bowl tickets for their game with Stanford in the first five days, according to the Wisconsin State Journal.

Michigan has sold more than 6,000 of its 11,000 tickets to the Outback Bowl matchup with South Carolina, according to MLive.com. Northwestern, the Big Ten's only private school, has not announced its ticket numbers for its Gator Bowl matchup with Mississippi State in Jacksonville, Fla.

The secondary ticket market, an Internet phenomenon that has become increasingly trusted by consumers, undercuts many bowl ticket sales, especially at lesser-known bowls. The Gophers hoped to combat that factor, Bowman said, by offering such a wide range of seats, from more expensive tickets on the 50-yard line to cheaper upper-deck seating.

The Gophers also have had good luck with package deals such as $1,000 per person for airfare, rooms at the team hotel, ground transportation, tickets to the game and a pregame tailgate party.

The game at the Houston Texans' Reliant Stadium is normally one of the best-attended non-BCS bowl games, in part because this is the fifth time in the game's seven seasons that a Texas school was invited. More than 68,000 tickets were sold for each of the past three bowls, which was known as the Texas Bowl before Meineke bought naming rights.

  • GOPHERS FOOTBALL

    Meineke Car Care Bowl: 8 p.m. Dec. 28 vs. Texas Tech • Reliant Stadium, Houston • TV: ESPN (100.3-FM, 1130-AM)

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Baltimore 2 FINAL
Detroit 15
NY Yankees 5 FINAL
Philadelphia 5
Northeastern 1 FINAL
Boston 2
Miami-Fla 1 FINAL
Miami 7
Pittsburgh 8 FINAL
Toronto 7
San Francisco 4 FINAL
Oakland 9
Cleveland 0 FINAL
Cincinnati 10
Boston College 0 FINAL
Boston 1
Arizona State 0 FINAL
Arizona 4
Boston 79 FINAL
Cleveland 110
LA Lakers 103 FINAL
Charlotte 104
Sacramento 124 FINAL
New York 86
Houston 96 FINAL
Atlanta 104
Utah 93 FINAL
Memphis 82
Washington 92 FINAL
Chicago 97
Milwaukee 95 FINAL
Denver 106
Nashville 1 FINAL
New Jersey 3
Calgary 3 FINAL(OT)
Philadelphia 2
Washington 5 FINAL
Columbus 3
Buffalo 0 FINAL
Tampa Bay 3
Toronto 3 FINAL
Florida 2
Ottawa 2 FINAL(SO)
Minnesota 3
NY Islanders 2 FINAL(OT)
Dallas 3
Anaheim 4 FINAL
Arizona 1
Los Angeles 5 FINAL
Edmonton 2
San Jose 6 FINAL
Vancouver 2
Ole Miss 82 FINAL
Alabama 74
Eastern Mich 67 FINAL
Ball State 60
Kent State 81 FINAL
Bowling Green 80
Ohio 66 FINAL
Buffalo 93
Georgetown 60 FINAL
Butler 54
Toledo 77 FINAL
Central Mich 85
Rhode Island 59 FINAL
Dayton 75
Youngstown St 67 FINAL
Detroit 77
North Carolina 81 FINAL
Georgia Tech 49
Loyola-Maryland 45 FINAL
Holy Cross 62
Iowa 77 FINAL
Indiana 63
Akron 63 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 70
Army 52 FINAL
Navy 56
Maryland 60 FINAL
Rutgers 50
Kennesaw St 54 FINAL
USC Upstate 90
Jacksonville 63 FINAL
Fla Gulf Coast 81
Lipscomb 76 FINAL
Northern Ky 73
Stetson 67 FINAL
North Florida 81
Wright State 57 FINAL
Ill-Chicago 60
Western Mich 63 FINAL
Northern Ill 65
Nebraska Omaha 80 FINAL
North Dakota 78
Houston Baptist 71 FINAL
Abilene Christian 83
NC State 66 FINAL
Clemson 61
Texas A&M 62 FINAL
Florida 66
Kentucky 72 FINAL
Georgia 64
West Virginia 69 FINAL
Kansas 76
Auburn 61 FINAL
Missouri 63
Michigan 78 FINAL
Northwestern 82
Villanova 76 FINAL
Creighton 72
Longwood 55 FINAL
Gardner-Webb 63
Charleston Southern 39 FINAL
Presbyterian 47
Coastal Carolina 54 FINAL
UNC-Asheville 68
NJIT 51 FINAL
UMass Lowell 60
West Virginia 55 FINAL
Kansas State 59
TCU 45 FINAL
Texas 79
Fresno State 61 FINAL
Air Force 41
San Jose St 76 FINAL
Boise State 91
Nevada 61 FINAL
Colorado State 68
UNLV 61 FINAL
San Diego State 76
Wyoming 61 FINAL
Utah State 57

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How will the Wild finish out the season?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close