LAS CRUCES – Bowl games are rarely money-making ventures for college football programs fortunate enough to win six games and extend their season.
New Mexico State’s 2017 Arizona Bowl game was somewhat of a perfect storm that resulted in a $130,000 profit. Not only was there a historical aspect, breaking the nation’s longest bowl drought of 57 years, but the proximity of the game to Las Cruces created a ticket sales bonanza.
This week’s trip to the Quick Lane Bowl in Detroit to cap Jerry Kill’s first season as the head football coach won’t yield that kind of return, at least in the athletic department’s bottom line. NM State plays Bowling Green in the nationally televised game Monday.
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“I think there are a ton of ancillary benefits,” NM State athletics director Mario Moccia said. “From a football standpoint, you get another three weeks of practice with the young guys. There is positive publicity for the football program. Playing on ESPN is huge for the school and we are the only college game on that day. It’s great exposure for the institution.The players get to play in an NFL stadium and all of that will build momentum and springboard us into Conference USA.
NM State, playing as an independent for the last five years, joins C-USA next season.
Moccia noted there is a “significant cost” to playing the Quick Lane Bowl, but “we would love to break even with a lot of intangible benefits as well.”
The most revenue the school could receive is $417,000, which would require NM State to sell all 4,000 allotted tickets. The Quick Lane Bowl payout per the contract is $150,000 and the school keeps 100 percent of the first 2,000 tickets (tickets are $89) and 50 percent of the next 2,000 tickets sold.
The Quick Lane Bowl would not comment on if the Mid American Conference or Bowling Green would receive the same guarantee of ticket revenue split as the Aggies will get. The use of the Ford Field facilities were free of charge for Aggie practices this week, but NMSU is, “responsible for all of its Bowl Game expenses, including all costs, charges and expenses for travel, housing, supplies, equipment or other expenses, “according to the bowl game contract.
By comparison, the Arizona Bowl paid NM State $250,000 and the school raked in $164,582 in ticket revenue (50 percent of ticket sales) and the Sun Belt provided $33,000 in travel expenses.
The most significant cost for the Arizona Bowl was $213,000 for team travel.
According to NM State officials, air fare for two team planes and a band plane to Detroit is already $556,500 with an estimated cost for the bowl trip to end between $800,000 and $1 million.
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Moccia points fans toward an online campaign to buy tickets through Caringcent.org, where even if fans don’t plan to attend, the tickets will be donated to Detroit youth and fans will receive a commemorative ticket, as well as NM State apparel depending on how many tickets they buy. As of Christmas, the school sold $97,533 through the site.
“We will keep the program going through bowl game,” Moccia said. “We are working with the bowl so they can distribute out tickets to the youth of Detroit. They have done that before so they are handling that for us.”
Moccia also added that the NMSU Foundation is underwriting the cost for the school band to travel, which is between $200,000 to $250,000.
“The foundation is going to help underwrite our bowl efforts,” Moccia said. “They are going to give us a check to help with expenses and help the band and spirit squad travel to the bowl and make it a great experience for the student athletes.”
Watch/listen to the game
The Quick Lane Bowl is being played Monday, Dec. 26, at Ford Field in Detroit. Kickoff will be at 12:30 pm Mountain Time and it will be broadcast on ESPN.
The New Mexico State Aggies (6-6) play the Bowling Green Falcons (6-6). Bowling Green is a 3.5-point favorite.
The NM State official watch party in Las Cruces will be at Rudy’s Country Store and Bar-BQ, 1020 N. Telshor Blvd.
The game will also be shown at the Cineport 10 movie theater inside Mesilla Valley Mall, 700 S. Telshor Blvd. There is no cost to see the game inside the theater 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.