Showing you the money: U of L football

The more disgruntled among the University of Louisville football fan base will tell you that losing is going to dry up the program’s financial coffers and force change of one type or another. And if it goes on long enough, I don’t doubt it will. But I thought it would be interesting to take a look at some financial numbers now that they’re in, just to compare last year, the program’s first without a bowl trip in a decade, with the previous couple of years.

I’m no Hank Paulson, but I’ll take a crack at it.

To do this, I used the Equity in Athletics Disclosure Act forms that the athletic department must file with the U.S. Department of Education every year. These documents are available for public inspection right here at U of L’s web site. You have to be careful with them. Under the label of revenue for a certain sport might come fundraising for facilities or any number of things not directly related to the sport. But these numbers do provide a good guide.

Last season, again, its first without a bowl in 10 years, U of L generated $16.082 million in football revenue.

The year before, which obviously, was the Orange Bowl year, U of L football brought in a school-record $19.024 million.

The result on U of L’s overall bottom line was predictable. For the last fiscal year, it reported a surplus of about $350,000. For the fiscal year before, the surplus was just about $3 million.

(A chart with all these revenue figures appears at the end of this entry).

But that’s not exactly a fair comparison. Years like the Orange Bowl season just don’t come around too often. So I figured it more fair to compare last year’s revenue total with a more typical U of L football season — using numbers from Fiscal Year 05-06.

That year, U of L had $16.332 million in football revenue. So when you compare that to the $16.082 million last year, you can see that football hasn’t dropped off much in earning power at U of L. Especially when you considered that it is just $250,000 in a year when it didn’t even reach a bowl.

Now, losing is never good for the bottom line. A second and third straight seasons without a bowl w0uld certainly strain what has been robust growth in U of L football revenue — not so much for what bowls do for revenue (because they also bring major expense) but for what it might mean for football donations, ticket sales, etc.

And we won’t know what this year’s figures look like until next summer, most likely, so it’s hard to tell whether there’s been any more of a falling off.

Nonetheless, at the risk of sounding like the presidential candidate who came up short in the election just completed, the fundamentals of U of L’s football economy still appear to be strong, especially since they appear to have managed to put together funding for a stadium expansion in an overall economy as bad as this one.

POSTSCRIPT: One item I had been curious about but forgotten to follow up on happened to be included in the 2006-07 EADA Report — the amount U of L spent in its Orange Bowl trip to Miami. U of L reported to the government that it spent $2,050,061 in football “postseason expenses.” That’s a lot of money by any measure, but especially considering U of L’s take from that bowl itself was probably somewhere in the $3.1 million range.

At the same time, I’m not surprised. The functions U of L threw for fans and boosters in Miami were lavish and extremely well-planned. Watching the development and fundraising side of things operate in Miami was one of the more impressive things I saw during the whole week. U of L spent money to make money, and if you wonder how despite all of the setbacks and the bad economy the department still expects to break ground on stadium expansion next month, much of it can probably be credited to the work done in Miami not only to make hay while the sun was shining, but to invest enough to make it happen. Yes, it was a big party. But it was, for U of L, a party with a purpose.















12 thoughts on “Showing you the money: U of L football

  1. One thing you have not taken into account is season ticket price. Uofl Had two more home games this year which will make higher profits. Also the year after the Orange Bowl UofL raised season ticket price by about $10 a game. All these numbers are at one ticket price not counting CAF donations. 08/09 13,440,000 a season in ticket sales 1,680,000 a game @ $40 a ticket07/0810,080,000 a season1,680,000 a game $4006/077,560,000 a season1,260,000 a game @ $30 a gameThis is one reason why people are mad, you tell us tom not to have higher expectation yet you raise our season ticket price.

  2. truth — good point about the home games, that’s a big factor.And this piece just assumed the rise in ticket price. The relevant fact in this discussion is that even though the ticket prices were higher, fans were still willing to pay. And so far — and I emphasize the words “so far” — they remain so, with a waiting list for season tickets still in place.

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