TAMPA, Fla. -- Don't expect a lot of green in the stands Saturday at the Birmingham Bowl...or in the USF Athletics budget after they have to eat the cost of 8,800 unsold tickets.
With the Bulls spending a second straight bowl season in Birmingham, not exactly a desirable vacation destination for the already-sparse USF fan base, the school has sold just 12 percent of its required 10,000 ticket allotment for the game, as the 10-2 Bulls will take on 6-6 Texas Tech.
It means USF will eat the cost of more than 8,800 tickets, likely worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.
According to USF Associate Athletic Director Brian Siegrist:
- The school sold 1,162 tickets;
- Distributed 1,635 tickets internally to the band, staff, and guests of players/coaches;
- Distributed 4,505 to Birmingham-area charities;
- Gave 2,698 tickets back to the bowl as unused.
The bowl pays teams for appearing in the game - approximately $1 million each, according to published reports - but the money gets shared with the American Athletic Conference (AAC).
It's also not cheap sending hundreds of players, staff, and band members to a bowl game; according to athletic department filings with the NCAA, USF spent $627,371 on last year's Birmingham Bowl.
However, football and men's basketball are the only sports at USF that run a surplus on annual revenues and expenses, due to substantial television money coming in through the AAC.
10Investigates has previously covered the university's growing problems balancing its athletic budget, as teams in small-conferences find it harder and harder to keep up with big-spending teams in the country's five major conferences.