By Rick Horrow
Photo by AP Photo/Richard Shiro
Just over 136.5 hours.
That’s the actual time it would take to play the entire slate of this year’s college football bowl games, which is 39 games times 3.5 hours on average, according to CFBStats.com. In that span, one conceivably could:
– Fly around the world three times on a private jet
– Binge watch 409 commercial-free episodes of “The Simpsons” on FXX
– Hike 45 miles of the Pacific Coast Trail, a la Cheryl Strayed/Reese Witherspoon in “Wild.”
All of which is merely food for thought on whether the giant bowl of college football postseason games does, in fact, runneth over.
Regardless of your personal consumption perspective, college football bowl games are a bonanza for corporate sponsors, host cities, and in most cases, the conferences in which the team plays.
On the other hand, they are often a cash drain for the schools themselves, which are often on the hook for any unused tickets, and regularly spend tens of thousands on transportation and lodging costs for players, coaches, administrators, and other hangers-on.
With college football shrinking as a spectator sport – a recent CBSSports.com analysis claims that attendance this year is at its lowest level in the last 14 years – it will be interesting to see how many fans actually turn out for all of these bowl games, especially the non-marquee matchups. (Look for lots of creativity among TV cameramen trying to find the best angles to hide empty swaths of stadium seats.)
Here, on the eve of this weekend’s first slate of five bowl games, are the pros, cons, and fast facts of the college football bowl season from an economic perspective.
At 39 total games featuring 76 teams (don’t forget that two teams will play twice), the 2014 college football bowl season is the biggest ever. All told, the bowl games cumulatively contribute $1.56 billion in economic impact to their host regions.
However, this inflated slate of games comes with a side helping of mediocrity. A dozen teams playing bowl games have a 6-6 win-loss record, and one, Fresno State, “advances” to the Hawaii Bowl vs. Rice with a losing record, at 6-7.
At least some of the middling teams play each other. Upcoming “memorable” matchups include Miami (6-6) v. South Carolina (6-6) at Duck Commander Independence Bowl in Shreveport on ABC December 27; followed by Texas (6-6) v. Arkansas (6-6) at the AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl in Houston December 29.
A clear winner in any case is ABC/Disney/ESPN. All but one of the 39 games will be telecast on that family of networks, with CBS being the lone holdout, broadcasting the Hyundai Sun Bowl in El Paso December 27.
All told, the 136+ hours of actual football will spawn 1,560 hours of uninterrupted television between December 20 and January 12.
Costs and Sponsorship
As football fans get ready for this year’s college bowl games, ScoreBig, an online marketplace for unsold ticket inventory, has data that shows what the average cost is by region.
According to ScoreBig, the biggest bang for your sports buck is in the Midwest ($108), followed by the Southwest ($192), Southeast ($216), Northeast ($222) and West ($235).
And with the first ever college playoffs set to determine this year’s national champion, ScoreBig also found that fans can save 67% by going to a non-playoff game, meaning that there’s still a ton of value for non CFP games.
On the host side, public sector support is significant; especially bowls that are named for states/cities (with significant tourist money) such as the Birmingham Bowl, Hawaii Bowl, Miami Beach Bowl Boca Raton Bowl, Military Bowl, and the Texas Bowl held at Dallas’ Cotton Bowl, and selling out for the first time this year.
In Orlando, home to two bowl games, a $207.7 million renovation of the Citrus Bowl facility is expected to help lure more than $80 million in economic impact, bringing tourists to the region for the December 29 Russell Athletic Bowl (Oklahoma vs. Clemson) and January 1 Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl (Missouri vs. Minnesota). The stadium also hosts the Florida Blue Florida Classic each fall, which generates upwards of $30 million annually for Central Florida.
While Buffalo Wild Wings and Russell Athletic are old hands at the college football sponsorship game, new 2014 corporate sponsors include Raycom Media (Camellia Bowl); Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl; Quick Lane Bowl; Foster Farms Bowl; and Goodyear. The Akron-Ohio based tire company is the new sponsor of the Cotton Bowl Classic on New Year’s Day – the naming rights deal became available when Dallas-based AT&T ended its relationship with the game after a 19 year run.
As in earlier years, finally, we’re seeing a lot of “Corporate musical chairs” in 2014-2015, companies that sponsored one bowl and now shifted to another. Witness VIZIO (from the Rose Bowl to the Fiesta); Ticket City (from Texas to Cactus); Buffalo Wild Wings (Tempe to Citrus); Capital One (Orlando to Orange); and AdvoCare 100 (Shreveport to Houston).
For college football players and coaching staffs, even though many must spend the holidays away from their families preparing for the games, there are plenty of gifts to be had. NCAA rules allow bowl game hosts to provide up to $550 worth of gifts for up to 125 participants per school, not including T-shirts, hats and rings bestowed after the postseason games.
This year, gift suites have exploded along with the total number of games, with 22 total bowl games offering the shopping suites to participants. Other items popular with hosts and players alike are Oakley backpacks and sunglasses; Fossil watches, and Best Buy gift cards.
The Belk Bowl in Charlotte is offering shopping trips to the department store chain that holds naming rights to the game. Likewise, the Outback Bowl offers gift cards to its Outback Steakhouse chain. The Quick Lane Bowl is offering Fatheads to each player with his likeness.
But don’t expect to get a chicken if you play in San Francisco’s Foster Farms bowl. And surprisingly, the Duck Commander Independence Bowl in Shreveport, Louisiana on December 27 doesn’t dole out duck calls or decoys to players from Miami and South Carolina.
Guess that particular game isn’t all that it’s quacked up to be.
Follow Rick Horrow (@RickHorrow) and Karla Swatek (@kswak) on Twitter.
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From:: The Sports Professor Rick Horrow on Bloomberg Sports