Teams break even on bowl

Despite multimillion dollar payouts, the U would break even with bowl trip.

by Sam Darcy

A win over Iowa on Saturday would put the University’s football team at six wins and make it bowl eligible, earning a million or two in the process.

But Elizabeth Eull, senior associate athletic director and chief financial officer for Gopher athletics, said the million-dollar payout from the bowl games basically allows the University to break even on its bowl trips.

“It is not expected from the Big Ten’s perspective that you make a lot of money on these,” she said.

Teams are required to be in the host city for about a week, and the hotel, dining and transportation costs add up, Eull said.

“Since the four years that I’ve been in Gopher Athletics, we have not overspent our allotment from the Big Ten, which has been great,” she said. “That means the money that was generated for a bowl appearance was supported by a bowl appearance, and we pay absolutely everything out of that.”

The Big Ten Conference has seven bowl tie-ins, and with a win this weekend the Gophers would have three conference victories, including wins over rival bowl candidates Indiana and Iowa.

The University is most likely to receive an invitation from the Alamo Bowl, Champs Sports Bowl or the Insight Bowl.

Teresa Grim, president of the Goal Line Club, the University’s official football booster organization, said she expected the Gophers would head to the Insight Bowl in Tempe, Ariz., or the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio.

“All of the club members that I’ve spoke to are very excited about any of those,” she said.

“Either of those would be great.”

Champs Sports Bowl communications manager Matt Repchak said his bowl pays each team $1.35 million for accepting an invite. The bowl gets to pick its teams before the Alamo and Insight Bowls and usually looks for teams with strong fan bases and ticket sales, he said.

The Alamo Bowl also pays each team $1.35 million for participation, but spokesman Rick Hill said the bowl’s focus is on Purdue or Iowa.

“You want something compelling to sell in the marketplace,” he said. “For a Big Ten home game you have a whole year to sell that game, but we basically have a little over three weeks to really push this game, so as many story lines, as many things that excite our fans as well as the traveling fans, we’ve got to make it happen.”

The Alamo Bowl has passed on inviting the Gophers in the past, most recently in 2003 when the bowl picked an eight-win Michigan State squad over a nine-win Gopher team.

The Insight Bowl might be the most realistic option if the football team is able to win Saturday, and they will send a representative to the Metrodome for this weekend’s game, Insight Bowl spokeswoman Gina Chappin said. With a $1.2 million payout, the bowl offers the sixth Big Ten representative less money, but is excited for a chance to host the Gophers, she said.

“We’re certainly excited to see how the weekend plays out and would love to have Minnesota in our game,” she said. “We’re all definitely anticipating the weekend to see how all these games play out.”

Chappin said the Insight Bowl will select any Big Ten representative that sits in the sixth spot, no matter how well it travels.

Grim said she thought the Insight Bowl would be the best fit for Minnesota, but said she is confident the Gophers will advance to a bowl and have a strong following.

“I think the bowl in Tempe would be great because of all the Minnesota fans that winter in Arizona, and I think we would have a great crowd at that one,” she said. “We expect to win this weekend and we are expecting a good crew from the booster club to attend whatever bowl we go to.”