It is no secret that Michigan State is coming off of a disappointing 2012 campaign. The Spartan Nation saw them start with goals of a Rose Bowl and National Championship and end simply trying to make a bowl. To say the least, excitement around this football program is a struggle to find.
The Spartans are expected to either sell or pay for 11,000 tickets for the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl. They are struggling. Ticket sales are approaching three thousand, but still remain slow and in the upper two thousands range.
Certainly the reason for that is twofold. The first reason is that Mark Dantonio has done a very good job elevating expectations of the Spartan Nation. This was not a good season and with high expectations comes high energy when they are reached and disappointment when they aren’t. The second is that the game is so far away and very expensive for a family to travel to.
If this game were in Florida or Texas, both easier to travel to, I believe that Michigan State would have sold more tickets. Nowhere near the 11,000 the Spartans are hoping for, but significantly more than the under 3,000 that they have currently sold.
This shows the dark side of college sports most folks don’t want to talk about. In the past winning and bowl games were great and widely supported. In today’s world with the elevation of costs and the massive amount of money asked of the fans, it isn’t about graduation rates, or lack of off field issues. Let’s be real, we know those matter in the real world, but in modern college sports it is all about winning.
Unless a major donor steps up to buy the remaining tickets and gives a significant donation, the Spartans are going to take a major financial hit with this game. It used to be you wanted bowl games. Now with so many teams losing money on them, the game has changed. In the words of my buddy Seth Kesler…”Seriously!”
One BCS AD (Not Mark Hollis) told me this week, “At some point schools are better off not getting a big game with a high ticket allotment, or as I call it: anchor around the neck. You think UCONN was thrilled a few years ago to make a BCS game? They lost their (butt) or Kent State this year? A lot of schools and not just the little ones lose money on bowl games. There are too many and teams want them so bad so they can go back to their alums and say ‘look we have progress.’ Nowadays with so many a bowl games, making one isn’t progress. I would like to see them scale back the number of games.”
Scaling back the number of bowl games is something I like, but that is for another day. For now, the Spartans mediocre year is going to be rewarded with a financial hit. Some reward for going from the dreams of a Rose Bowl to the realism of 6-6.
MSU Super AD Mark Hollis addressed the concerns of ticket sales back on December 10. He said, “As anticipated, bowl ticket sales have been slow through the Spartan Ticket Office,” MSU Athletics Director Mark Hollis said. “Over the years, fans have become more creative in identifying ways to purchase the best seat locations at the best prices.”
He added at the time that, “We remain hopeful and optimistic that there will be many fans wearing Green and White at the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl. Bowl officials tell us that there is a great deal of buzz in the local community about the game.”
He finished by saying, “We understand the importance of selling as much of our allotment as possible because these sales are measured and taken into consideration by bowl committees in the future. We will continue to encourage MSU alumni and fans, not only in mid-Michigan but throughout the Southwest and Southern California, to purchase tickets through the Spartan Ticket Office.”
If you have yet to get your tickets you still have time. Here is the best route for Spartan fans. Ticket prices for the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl range from $25-$125 each. Fans may order Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl tickets online at msuspartans.com (click “tickets” and proceed to the Spartan Online Ticket Office) or by calling the Spartan Ticket Office (open weekdays from 10 a.m.-6 p.m.), locally at 355-1610 or outside the Lansing area at 1-800-GO-STATE.