Clemson's issues selling Orange Bowl tickets spotlight broken bowl system

The Clemson Sports Blog

Clemson cornerback Coty Sensabaugh (15) in the ACC Championship game at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C.

Clemson cornerback Coty Sensabaugh (15) in the ACC Championship game at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C.

— – The news sounds alarming, but is actually quite close to a positive.

Late last week, Clemson officials told The (Charleston) Post and Courier that they expect to lose $185,000 on the Tigers’ trip to Jan.4’s Orange Bowl against West Virginia.

Considering Clemson will receive a $17.7 million payout for its first-ever Bowl Championship Series appearance and its first BCS-level bowl game since the 1982 Orange Bowl, losing money sounds ridiculous.

However, Clemson must split the pot with the rest of the ACC – just as league members do for all bowl games – and faces major expenses.

So how does CU’s athletic department project a loss? To paraphrase the dominant catchphrase of the 1992 presidential election: it’s economics, stupid.

A broken bowl ticketing system makes college athletic directors look absolutely foolish.

Just like West Virginia, Clemson was allotted 17,500 tickets to sell for the Orange Bowl.

Clemson officials expect to sell approximately 8,500 tickets for the game, or around half of their allotment.

But before you go pillaging the Clemson ticket office for poor salesmanship or laziness – stop and understand the economics of the situation. A mid-week, Wednesday-night kickoff hurts both teams.

The secondary ticket market severely undercuts both Clemson and West Virginia.

According to Clemson’s official website, tickets are available in a wide variety of areas in Sun Life Stadium, from upper levels ($75) to those hugging the sidelines ($225), and everywhere in between.

One look at, however, and you realize why those tickets are moving so slowly.

As of Monday afternoon, StubHub had 5,283 tickets for sale. And they’re dirt-cheap, as low as $11.99 for upper-level seats and moving up only slightly from there; a multitude were $20-25, rising upward to $700 for club seats (with a huge variety of prices and levels in between).

Unless you’re loyal to a fault or just don’t like money, why would you buy a $75 seat from Clemson when you could get six from StubHub for the same price?

You don’t.

How did the secondary market get so flooded? The Orange Bowl, of course, has been selling seats for months. And once the bowl has cash in hand from its own sales, who cares what the buyer does with them, right?

No wonder Clemson expects to eat $390,000 in unsold seats.

The bowls are experts in squeezing every single, solitary dollar they can from their “guests.”

The halftime entertainment for Jan. 9’s BCS national title game is a natural: the marching bands of participants Alabama and LSU.

According to Yahoo Sports, the schools must buy tickets for every band member.

What an honor. What a privilege. What a boondoggle.

There are positives to high-level bowl games, of course. The national exposure is priceless for recruiting and prestige purposes, and the extra practices help develop younger players.

And it could be worse. West Virginia athletic director Oliver Luck told reporters last week that he hopes to hold the Mountaineers’ Orange Bowl losses under $1 million.

What a wonderful bowl system we have.

A playoff can’t come soon enough.

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Comments » 2

waran writes:

There are 2 ACC teams in BCS bowls and many others in other bowl games. $17.5 million goes to ACC from the Orange Bowl alone. I expect ACC will get nearly $40 million as revenue from Bowl games which will be shared with member schools. If it is shared equally, each ACC member can expect to get $2-3 million. Even with Clemson's commitments to buy the unsold tickets, I doubt Clemson or any University will spend $2-3 million. We need to remember that profits are equal to total revenue minus total costs. I dont think Clemson University will lose money by participating in the Orange Bowl and if they do, the formula used by ACC for sharing the Bowl revenues need to be changed. Those who participate in Bowl games and those who participate in higher paying Bowl games should receive a higher share of the total revenue from Bowl games.

columbiabill writes:

It does only seem fair that those teams participating in the bowl games should get a bigger share of the profits from these games. However, that is what it means to be a member of a conference. Clemson gets an equal share of the profits from ACC participation the NCAA basketball tournament at the expense of UNC and Duke. In the long term it tends to even out. For a football playoff, I think the ticket sales for a Wednesday game in Miami for a playoff would be about the same as they are for the Orange Bowl. The real problem is that ticket prices for college football games have become too expensive for many fans.

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