CLEMSON — – 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 StubHub.com, 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?
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.