Bowl Game Economics

BYU’s football team will play in the Poinsettia Bowl on December 21st.  The economics surrounding college football bowl games has always fascinated me.  While the economics are largely opaque, it is possible to get a glimpse through tax filings of the non-profits that promote the game.

The Poinsettia bowl is hosted by the San Diego Bowl Game Association, which also hosts the Holiday bowl on December 27th.  The latest tax return that is publicly available shows the economics for the games two years ago (2014).

The Association generated $11.2 Million of revenue in 2014.  Over half of that ($6.3 Million) comes from ticket sales.  Another $2.4 million comes from contributions and grants (remember, this is a non-profit: it’s all about the student athletes 🙂 ).  Another $2 Million comes in from television and radio.  That leaves $500,000 that comes in from bowl week events and the sale of programs, novelties, etc.

Where does all of this money go?  Approximately half ($5.7 Million) is paid for team participation – goes to schools playing in the games and their respective conferences.  $3 Million is used for “Bowl Expenses” and $1.2 Million is used for employee compensation (the Executive Director makes $273k per year).  The final $1 Million is used on parade expenses and other various game related expenses.

If the revenue and expenses are roughly split between the Holiday Bowl and the Poinsettia Bowl, each game is roughly a $5.5 Million endeavor.  That is amazing to me.  However, it pales in comparison to the $101 Million generated by the Rose Bowl the same year!

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