LAS cruces — For a college football program lucky enough to win six games and extend its season, the bowl game is rarely a money-making venture.
The 2017 Arizona Bowl game in New Mexico was a bit of a perfect storm, bringing in $130,000 in profits. Not only was it historic, breaking the nation’s longest bowl drought in 57 years, but the game’s proximity to Las Cruces created a boom in ticket sales.
Closing out Jerry Kill’s first season as football head coach at the Quick Lane Bowl this week in Detroit isn’t going to yield that kind of payoff, at least not on the bottom line in the sports department. On Monday, NMSU played the bowling alley in a nationally televised game.
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“I think there’s a lot of side benefits,” New Mexico State athletic director Mario Mocia said. “From a football standpoint, you have another three weeks of practice with the youngsters. The football program is well promoted. Playing on ESPN means a lot to the school and we were the only college game that day. It was Great exposure for the agency. Players get to play in NFL stadiums, all of which will build momentum and be our springboard into the American Conference.
NM State, which has played as an independent for the past five years, will join C-USA next season.
Moccia noted that there is a “significant cost” to participating in the Quick Lane Bowl, but “we also hope to break even through a lot of intangible benefits.”
The maximum revenue a school can earn is $417,000, which would require NM State to sell all 4,000 allocated tickets. The Quick Lane Bowl spend per contract is $150,000, with the school retaining 100% of the first 2,000 tickets sold at $89 and 50% of the next 2,000 tickets sold.
The Quick Lane Bowl would not comment on whether the Mid-America Conference or Bowling Green would receive the same guaranteed ticket revenue split as the Aggies. Aggie’s use of the Ford Field facility is free for practice this week, but NMSU is “responsible for all costs of its bowl game, including all costs, fees and expenses of travel, housing, supplies, equipment or other expenses,” according to the bowl game contract.
In comparison, the Arizona Bowl paid NM State $250,000, the school received $164,582 in ticket revenue (50 percent of ticket sales), and the Sun Belt provided $33,000 in travel expenses.
The most significant expense for the Arizona Bowl is $213,000 in team travel.
Airfare to Detroit on two team planes and a band plane has cost $556,500, with estimates for a bowl trip ranging from $800,000 to $1 million, according to New Mexico officials.
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Moccia pointed fans to the online event by purchasing tickets through Caringcent.org, and even if fans don’t plan to attend, tickets will be donated to Detroit youth, and fans will receive a commemorative ticket, as well as NM State apparel, depending on how they Bought a lot of tickets. As of Christmas, the school had sold $97,533 through the site.
“We’re going to have this program run through the bowl game,” Mosiah said. “We’re working with the bowl so they can distribute tickets to young people in Detroit. They’ve done this before, so they’re handling it for us.”
Moccia also added that the NMSU Foundation is covering travel costs for the school band, which can cost between $200,000 and $250,000.
“The foundation will help underwrite our bowling program,” Mosia said. “They’ll give us a check to help with our expenses and help the band and spirit squad get to the bowling game, which is a great experience for the student-athletes.”
watch/listen to the game
The Quick Lane Bowl will be on Monday, December 12th. 26, at Ford Field in Detroit. The game kicks off at 12:30 p.m. MT on ESPN.
New Mexico State Aggies (6-6) vs. Bowling Green Falcons (6-6). Bowling Green is the 3.5-point favorite.
The official New Mexico viewing party in Las Cruces will be held at Rudy’s Country Store and Bar-BQ, 1020 N. Telshor Blvd.
The game will also be screened at Cineport 10 in the Mesilla Valley Mall at 700 S. Telshor Blvd. Watching the game in the theater is free, but seating is limited.
Listen to the game on 99.5-FM
Jason Groves can be reached at email@example.com or 575-541-5459.follow him on twitter @jpgroves.