There Is No Jerryworld Pot Of Gold
Dave Brandon, Jerry Jones, and two weird old guys. Unless I've got that wrong.
A lot of people are pretty mad that Michigan's band is not going to Alabama. So many people are mad that there is a backlash against the mad people. The strength of the reaction is a combination of a number of things, amongst them the sudden reversal, how bush-league we look in comparison to Alabama, and the growing feeling that maybe this wasn't such a coup after all.
Remember back when this thing was scheduled and we were assured that the take from this was going to be epic? Back then, I thought it was a good idea because it seemed impossible for Michigan to schedule a real nonconference opponent in any other way. This came paired with rending of garments about that fact, how college football is broken, etc., but the fact remained that 2012 would be the first season in a long time in which two nonconference games would be against truly interesting opponents. It was the only way.
That assumption has steadily eroded as we find out more and more details and observe Big Ten scheduling trends in general. The conference announced a scheduling alliance with the Pac-12 that will force every league member to undertake regular home-and-home matchups against comparable opponents, no neutral site funny stuff (or at least not much). Michigan State jumped the gun on that agreement to schedule Oregon to a home-and-home. The year after that series finishes, the Spartans will take on Alabama in a home-and-home, in years when they also play Notre Dame. It can be done. Michigan just didn't do it.
As for our Alabama game, Michigan's announced take, $4.7 million, is so low it seems impossible it's correct. If that's all Michigan's getting from the game that's at best equivalent to playing a body-bag game at Michigan Stadium. Assuming random one-off opponent cost a million bucks, Michigan would match 4.7 million in gate receipts alone by charging an average of 52 bucks a ticket.
Michigan's 2011 budget shows $41.3 million for last year's eight-game home season in pure ticket costs minus guarantees, $8.7 million in PSDs, and $13 million in premium seating donations. Everything included, the average price paid for a seat at a Michigan game last year was about 72 dollars. Without all the donations, it was $49 last year; ticket prices increased by an average of $4.64 this year. $4.7 million is about 300k less than they'd get from a home game on ticket face value alone.
Add in Michigan's expenses for getting down to Dallas and the ancillary benefits of having a home game (parking and concessions seem to be around 300k per game and there would be some level of increased donations required to get a season ticket) and either $4.7 million is undershooting it by a lot or Dave Brandon sold a home game to Dallas for no financial benefit whatsoever. Meanwhile, tickets for Dallas start at $125. At that price Michigan could easily afford a home and home with a high-quality opponent.
Surely this can't be right. Dave Brandon didn't send Michigan down to Dallas for no reason whatsoever, right? My previous belief was that there was something we were missing in the numbers. But the sudden about-face about the band—and it was an about face given the contract and the conspicuous "Michigan band" sections on seating charts—suggests that the financial picture could be as grim as that: $400k is a significant chunk when you're already getting hosed backwards and forwards.
I finally took a close look at the contract. We are getting hosed backwards and forwards. Check it:
CSLP will … pay $4,700,000 to Michigan. The team acknowledges that the Team Guarantee constitutes the sole financial compensation for the Team for playing the Game, and that no other compensation will be due or owed to the Team under this Agreement in connection with the Game. … The parties acknowledge that the Team may be entitled to compensation from its conference related to broadcast of the game. CSLP … will … retain all other revenues from the game. CSLP and ESPN acknowledge and agree that (a) all rights to telecast of distribute the programs of the Games have been assigned by Michigan to the Big Ten (b) Michigan has no ability to grant to ESPN any rights for telecast or distribution of Games played pursuant to this agreement and c) as between Michigan and ESPN, ESPN is responsible for obtaining such rights from the Big Ten. Notwithstanding the forgoing, if ESPN has the broadcast rights [they can get a title sponsor, etc.]
The TV point is important: my Big Theory for why this makes sense is that the teams would get the TV rights to themselves because the game is outside of their conference footprints. That's not the case. The money Michigan gets from television will be split twelve ways—every extra dollar they make for playing a big time opponent also goes to OSU.
Michigan gets a couple hundred tickets, a couple suites, seating for the band, a field-level "party suite" and right to purchase 500 tickets near it, and 100 parking passes. Cheerleaders get in free. They get one "official retailer" in the stadium that CSLP takes a 22% of the gross of. So that's nothing. An addendum makes it clear that "hotel rooms, and other costs of transportation and lodging, shall be at the cost and expense of the individual institutions." Even the police escorts are at the respective teams' expense.
The only thing that could possibly redeem this is if the Michigan got the revenue from the uber-expensive tickets, but the contract makes it clear they don't:
CSLP shall also provide a minimum of 25,000 tickets for Michgian to re-sell to its fans as specified on the stadium map as an addendum to this document.
Michigan got no more money than they would for an average regular season game and is charging their fans 60% more (at a minimum!) to attend it. There is no way to read the contract other than this: Dave Brandon got ripped off.
So when Dave Ablauf tells AnnArbor.com that they're treating Dallas like "any other road game," it's because they have to. This supposed financial windfall simply does not exist. At best it's a break-even proposition even without the band. They will probably make more against Air Force the next week. Michigan gets a "bowl game experience" in an NFL stadium without its band at "neutral site" Michigan is twice as far away from as Alabama. Meanwhile, Mark Hollis gets Alabama at home. Michigan got owned by Mark "people u is" Hollis.
You can consider the future created, yo.
BONUS: I hope this came from Brandon.