JOHNSON CITY, TN (WJHL) – When East Tennessee State University and Western Carolina square off for a football game on September 17 at Bristol Motor Speedway, the Bucs are expected to take home a decent paycheck and plenty of national exposure, but the tens of thousands of dollars ETSU could make from the game are nothing compared to what the University of Tennessee and Virginia Tech will walk away with the week before.
The Battle at Bristol is marketed as “College Football’s Biggest Ever” game and the Volunteers and Hokies will each be paid accordingly. The game contract shows both teams will make at least $4 million.
Just a week later, ETSU will play in what could be the Bucs’ biggest ever game and as a result, the game contract shows ETSU will likely make money.
“I think it could be very positive financially for us,” ETSU Athletic Director Dr. Dick Sander said. “It’s going to be a good deal no matter what.”
According to the contract, ETSU will get 6,000 tickets to sell or give away. For all tickets sold beyond that, the university will take home 20% compared to BMS’ 80% share. To make tens of thousands of dollars the university will have to bring in between 10,000 and 12,000 fans total.
“If we got anything over that I’d be very happy,” Dr. Sander said.
If BMS can secure a title sponsor for the game ETSU will get 20% of that revenue too.
According to the contract, BMS has agreed to cover most of the game-day costs. Generally, athletic department officials say its costs the university more than $2,000 a game to rent Kermit-Tipton Stadium. When ETSU plays its “home” game at BMS, the university won’t have to worry about that cost. ETSU will, however, be required to provide security, ushers and support staff for the game.
ETSU collected a little more than $2,000 in parking fees at its home opener last year, but the BMS contract does not give the Bucs any money for parking revenue. BMS is also entitled to all revenue from suite and hospitality package sales, merchandise sales and concessions sales, including the sale of alcohol.
ETSU officials say they feel the contract is a fair partnership that stands to benefit both sides in the short and long-term.
“The people at Bristol Motor Speedway have just been tremendous to us,” Dr. Sander said. “There’s no question it’s Bristol Motor Speedway doing something to try to help our program and so we greatly appreciate it.”
From day one, ETSU officials have expressed their gratitude to the speedway for giving their student athletes the chance of a lifetime to play at BMS, knowing the event will help the football team recruit new players and allow the university to market the ETSU brand through possible national exposure.
Senior Associate Athletic Director Scott Carter says there is no way to put a dollar figure on the impact to the players and university.
“It can’t be quantified,” Carter said. “I think it will be one of those games our players will remember into their 80s.”
BMS Communications Manager Chris Lawyer says the speedway has not yet set a time for the game or secured a television network to carry the game.
“We’ll let you know when we are ready to announce further details,” he said.
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