It wasn’t just fate, convenience or coincidence that UL’s football team got one of the country’s earliest postseason bowl bids, one that came before the Ragin’ Cajuns even finished their regular-season schedule and before any other team in the Sun Belt Conference.When the Cajuns got that coveted bid to the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl immediately following the 52-30 home-finale victory over South Alabama, it wasn’t just for a feel-good moment at Cajun Field.
As you might expect, this being collegiate athletics, the invitation and acceptance for the Dec. 22 game at the Mercedes-Benz
|Photo by Robin May|
_Superdome was about money. And in this case, that’s not a bad thing, just like last year when UL made its first-ever Division I bowl trip. Mick Jagger may tell you that you can’t always get what you want, but with UL headed back to the Big Easy, everyone gets what they need.
The financial structures for bowl games have changed radically with the explosion of available games. In the past 10 years, the combined payouts for the 35 bowl games totaled more than $2 billion to the participating schools. Last year, the listed payouts to the 70 schools that played in bowl games totaled approximately $281 million.
But bowls aren’t the financial bonanza for the schools that most believe, especially for the 30 games that are not a part of the Bowl Championship Series — the Rose Bowl Game, the Discover Orange Bowl, the Allstate Sugar Bowl, the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl and the BCS National Championship Game.
For the rest, the financial engine for the games depends on the popularity of the participating teams and the willingness of those teams’ fans to purchase tickets and travel to the destination cities. And in most of those games, the payout numbers don’t involve a healthy check.
A bowl game may list a $1 million payout to a team, but that figure is mostly derived from giving the institution an allotment of game tickets, and the school’s income from the bowl game depends on whether those are sold.
Last year, UL sold almost 19,000 tickets to the New Orleans Bowl through its own ticket office at the Cajundome — easily the most ever by a Sun Belt school. Tickets were priced at $40 and $50, so the income from those sales was more than $800,000, and that was money the university and the athletic program pocketed.
San Diego State, the Cajuns’ opponent last year, sold less than 2,000 tickets. In other words, the Aztecs took two losses last December — the 32-30 last-second defeat thanks to Brett Baer’s 50-yard field goal on the game’s final play, and the financial hit of having bowl income not cover bowl expenses.
Those expenses aren’t cheap. Charter flights are more expensive than ever, and the cost of five nights of hotels and meals for a traveling party of 150 can quickly add up.
That’s why the Cajuns have already become a New Orleans Bowl favorite. They can get there cheaply (a two-hour bus ride instead of a charter flight), and the fans will follow. Last year’s crowd of 42,481 obliterated the game’s previous high attendance (30,228 for Southern Miss-Middle Tennessee in 2009), and the huge majority were loud and proud Cajun followers.
It wasn’t just the game, either. New Orleans hotels, restaurants and tourist attractions — and, yes, bars — experienced a boon in a normally-slow pre-Christmas period. During the two days before last year’s game, it was difficult to find a downtown establishment that wasn’t a sea of red and white shirts.
Jay Cicero, the president and CEO of the sponsoring Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation, officially extended this year’s bid minutes after the South Alabama win. Asked later about what point the Cajuns were under consideration for a berth in this year’s New Orleans Bowl, he said, “Right after the game last year.”
|Photo by Robin May|
“That’s what we’re about,” says bowl Executive Director Billy Ferrante. “The bowl brings people in and lets them experience a destination city in New Orleans, and it’s important for the city that we bring teams that have an excited fan base and that will come to the game and make an economic impact.
“Obviously, after last year, we know that will happen with the Cajuns and their fans.”
When UL received its second straight New Orleans Bowl invitation on that Nov. 24 night, the Cajuns became only the fifth team nationally to accept a bowl bid this year. All of the others were automatic locks once those schools reached bowl eligibility — Navy in the Dec. 29 Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl in San Francisco, BYU in the Dec. 20 San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego and Air Force in the Dec. 29 Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth — or clinched their conference title, as Utah State did by winning the WAC for that league’s berth in the Dec. 15 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl in Boise.
Put differently, the Cajuns were the first team in the country this year to receive a bid from a bowl that had other options. The New Orleans Bowl could have taken any bowl-eligible team in the Sun Belt, and the league has more bowl-eligible teams this year than at any point in its history. Arkansas State, Middle Tennessee, UL Monroe and Western Kentucky will join the Cajuns with seven or more wins when the regular season ends.
But only one selection made sense for both parties. That’s why it wasn’t just the Cajun players — the team didn’t know the bid would come right after the game (citing a source close to the discussions, IND Monthly hinted in an online story the previous Thursday that the bid could be awarded post-game) — who were yelling and laughing during the official bid announcement.
Cicero, Ferrante and UL Athletics Director Scott Farmer all had big grins. They would have yelled, too, had that not been inappropriate at the time.
But they were doing plenty of celebrating on the inside.
After last year’s record sales, UL has requested an even larger allotment of tickets for the New Orleans Bowl to be sold to area fans.
Those are now on sale and will remain on sale locally until a few days before the Dec. 22 game.
Acadiana-area fans have two options to purchase tickets: you can buy them at the Cajundome box office weekdays between 10 a.m.-6 p.m., or by going online to www.ragincajuns.com to download a bowl order form. This form may be returned to the ticket office via e-mail, regular mail or in person.
Orders will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis, with seat selection priorities going in order to Ragin’ Cajuns Athletic Foundation annual fund donors, 2012 football season ticket holders, current UL students and the general public.
Deadline to reserve tickets is Thursday, Dec. 6. RCAF donors may purchase as many tickets as desired, but the number of priority seats will be determined by their 2012 Annual Fund donation as of Dec. 6. There is still time to join the RCAF and make annual fund donations in order to improve bowl-ticket priority, with information available at www.RCAF4UL.com.
Law firm unveils newly renovated 200-year-old building.
UL grad named web developer at BBR Creative
Lafayette-based emergency department staffing and management company raises $120 million in senior credit facilities through GE Capital, Healthcare Financial Services.
High-rise apartment building, parking garage, hotel and retail part of new development.
A common thread runs through many of those we oppose: Enshrining in the Constitution protections on programs and their funding sources has had a disastrous effect on Louisiana’s most important economic development engine.
"I am extremely disheartened by the political machines that are attempting to hijack my efforts along with others that advocate for children."
Landrieu, who is fighting to keep her seat for a fourth term, said that Ebola is serious and precautions should be taken, but she accused Republicans of using the virus outbreak in West Africa to "create fear" here at home.
The number of Louisianans with jobs continued to set records in September, but the state's unemployment rate kept rising as new job seekers keep entering the market.
Three bedroom cottage or three bedroom ranch
Sheer lace perfection
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
Louisiana is drowning, quickly.
Law enforcement agencies are participating in a "Louisiana Heroin Summit," designed to address the recent rise in heroin use and drug-related deaths around the state.
State education officials are preparing to release performance scores for public schools and public school districts.
Saints coach Sean Payton is starting a new week by emphasizing, repeatedly, the many good things he noticed during New Orleans' latest loss.
Tuesday's Blogs from the Bog!
Oscar de la Renta dies; Pistorius sentenced; World Series begins and more national and international news for Tuesday, October 21, 2014.
We will be offering our recommendations on the constitutional amendments tomorrow.
Three bedroom in Lawtell or two bedroom in Rayne
Fall's new darling
The justices did not comment in leaving in place lower court rulings that dismissed the lawsuits against BP and other companies involved in the worst U.S. offshore oil spill.
White registration is down by 7,700 voters while black registration has shot up by 7,100 voters.
Even though it had been rumored for months, U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu finally pulled the trigger recently on a major campaign shakeup that moved control over to a few Big Easy insiders.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
Louisiana's health department says it will seek law changes to stop billing sexual assault victims for exams and tests.
An investment group led by Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets will buy the Louisiana power company Cleco for $3.4 billion.
It wasn’t the historic slashes to higher ed funding or the ensuing tuition spikes that recently had LSU’s student body and faculty riled up in collective outrage.
"I feel it is appropriate to speak up when there are topics that are being bandied about with little or no factual data to back them."
Will $400 be enough for the re-election campaign of LPSB's Hunter Beasley to overcome two years of holding our school system hostage and hurting the education of our children all because of a personal dislike of the superintendent?
Saints tight end Jimmy Graham said Friday he expects his playing status in Detroit to be decided by coach Sean Payton on Sunday, shortly before the game.