U of M reward at Citrus Bowl may be glory, but not money
The University of Minnesota will get long-awaited national exposure Jan. 1 when it plays against Missouri in the Citrus Bowl — Minnesota's first major bowl in more than half a century.
Just don't expect it to get a big payoff.
Because of the way the Big Ten and other conferences share bowl money, the university will get the same amount as every other school in the Big Ten — regardless of whether it plays in a bowl.
"It's not a payday for Minnesota — it's not a payday for anybody," said Mike Poorman, a Penn State University senior lecturer who covers the sports industry. "It's a very ... socialistic division of revenues."
U of M expects to get up to $31 million this year from the Big Ten conference — the same as most of the other Big Ten teams — up from $28 million last year, Gopher Athletics spokesman Chris Werle said.
That's about a third of the school's athletics budget of $96 million this year.
The Citrus Bowl pays $4.25 million to a participating team's conference. But the university won't see that payout directly. Big Ten authorities will put the money in the general revenue pool along with money earned from such things as TV contracts. At the end of the year, the Big Ten will split the money among teams.
Nor will the Gopher's Citrus Bowl appearance be a bonus to the Big Ten this year. The conference has an agreement with the Citrus Bowl that puts a Big Ten team into the game, so "it should not represent a real increase for the conference," said Brian Turner, associate professor of sport management at Ohio State University.
Although Minnesota will get the standard slice of the revenue pie, a few schools won't get as much. Conference newcomers Rutgers and Maryland don't get their full shares yet, and Penn State is still under financial sanctions from its child sex abuse scandal in 2011.
The Gophers actually could lose money on the bowl trip.
Big Ten authorities are giving Minnesota a stipend of $2 million for travel and accommodation. With that stipend, the U of M will transport, house and feed its bowl delegation, which includes the team, marching band, spirit squads, regents and senior administrators. They'll fly down Dec. 29 and return just after the game on Jan. 1.
With travel and accommodation for so many, Werle said, $2 million "doesn't go as far as you might think."
But he said the Gophers "are going to do our damndest" not to go over budget.
"We're always very careful that we do things right — but not necessarily over the top," he said.
The Athletics Department also is spending $10,000 to help subsidize — along with TCF Bank — a $299 bowl-visit deal for student season-ticket holders, Werle said. It includes a bus trip to the bowl, two nights in a hotel, a ticket to the game and a season ticket for next year's Gopher games.
That's an expense Werle said was a reward for loyal fans.
The university has sold enough tickets to fill six busloads of about 45 students each.
So far, the Gophers have sold many more tickets to the Citrus Bowl than they did to the Texas Bowl last year. Werle said about 7,300 of its 9,000 tickets are gone. Last year, U of M sold just 3,400 out of the allotted 12,000.
Even if the university doesn't sell all the tickets, the Big Ten conference will buy the remainder and take the cost out of the pool it distributes to teams. Last year, the Cedar Rapids Gazette reported, the Big Ten covered the cost of U of M's unsold tickets — more than $500,000.
The university could make money from the Citrus Bowl indirectly in areas such as merchandising, marketing power, increased donations and more admissions applications from prospective students.
"The soft money," said Penn State's Poorman, "is where you're really going to make some real additional money. You're not going to get much hard money [from the bowl] at all."