by Mac Cerullo
University of Connecticut
It was a milestone for the University of Connecticut football program: the Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, Arizona.
The 2011 Bowl Championship Series marked the first time the school had earned the Big East’s automatic bid to the compete in the series. And it meant the school would play Oklahoma, one of the nation’s most prestigious teams, in a nationally televised game on New Year's Day.
But the experience came at great cost. The team had to travel over 2,200 miles to the site of the game. Once there, the school was contractually obligated to spend eight days at a hotel of the Fiesta Bowl’s choosing and sell 17,500 tickets to help fill the stands. The school could not negotiate its hotel rates, and it was unable to move most of the required tickets, forcing UConn to eat $2.9 million in ticket sales.
In the end, UConn lost nearly $1.8 million.
“It was a high number, there’s no question,” said Mike Enright, UConn’s associate director of athletics for communications. “I think it would have been interesting from a BCS standpoint [if] Stanford went to the Fiesta Bowl and we went to the Orange Bowl, would both schools have benefited from them making the switch?”
That's impossible to answer. But while the amount UConn lost at the Fiesta Bowl was eye-popping, the fact that the school lost money is not unusual.
A Daily Campus review of bowl documents from each school that has played in the BCS over the past three years revealed that most schools who participated in the postseason lost money.
Related article: UConn ticket sales lowest among public BCS schools