The prestige of playing in its first-ever Bowl Championship Series game came at a price for the University of Connecticut, which lost $1,663,560 on its trip to Phoenix to play Oklahoma in the Jan. 1 Fiesta Bowl.
As expected, the biggest hit came from unsold tickets. According to the financial report UConn submitted to the NCAA by its March 1 deadline, the school spent $3,349,835 on tickets it was required by the Fiesta Bowl to purchase - be they for the marching band, corporate sponsors, coaches, players' families or the general public. Only $676,248 in ticket sales was realized, resulting in a net loss of $2,673,587 on ticket sales alone.
Of the roughly 4,600 tickets UConn sold, only 2,771 went to the general public. Judging by the substantial Husky fan representation at the game, it was clear others opted to buy tickets through the secondary market at prices representing a fraction of what the university charged. Again, no big surprise.
"[Athletic director] Jeff Hathaway and the university were up front and honest in December when we talked about finances, and nothing is different now than we thought it would be or that we said it would be," associate AD for communications Mike Enright told The Hartford Courant this week. "We said the bowls are not going to make money, but we feel the residual effects of the bowl game are well worth it."
As an example, Enright pointed to tickets paid for by the university to fulfill corporate sponsorship packages, which generate $7.5 million for the athletic department.