The Little Caesars Pizza Bowl and on-campus preparations for the Dec. 26 game cost the Central Michigan University athletics department $84,282.
CMU athletics received a stipend of $100,000 from the Mid-American Conference and an additional $166,547 from ticket sales, which helped offset the $350,829 total trip expenses.
“Very few teams make money in bowl games, but it’s an expense that you tackle because of the type of exposure you’re able to receive,” Director of Athletics Dave Heeke said. “It also helps you build your program.”
More than 2.6 million viewers watched the Chippewas top Western Kentucky 24-21 in the nationally-televised Little Caesars Pizza Bowl at Ford Field in Detroit. Heeke said the game was the third-most watched bowl game involving a MAC team, behind the Orange Bowl (Northern Illinois) and Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (Toledo). The MAC sent seven teams to bowl games, a conference record.
“It’s tremendous exposure for a relatively low cost,” Heeke said. “The positive energy around the bowl game certainly generates enthusiasm and allows you to promote your program in a real positive way.”
Prior to the game, the department spent $63,490 for on-campus meals and off-campus local events.
Classic Fare Catering provided 15 meals for the team between Dec. 14 and Dec. 23, including a combination of brunch and dinner buffets, totaling $38,400.
Transportation to Detroit and around the city for the team cost $18,500, while lodging and meals cost $107,539.
The location of CMU’s bowl game was convenient for attracting donors and supporters of the university, Heeke said. Entertainment for higher-level donors cost the department $20,000.
“The opportunity to go to a bowl game – especially like this one in metro Detroit– to engage the thousands and thousands of alums and friends of the university, that’s very positive, and that helps our university as we move forward,” Heeke said.
Other expenses for the event included $30,000 for bowl awards, $20,000 for apparel, $43,000 for postage, mailing and marketing, $20,000 for administrative services and $20,000 for miscellaneous spending.
“When you go to a bowl game, you have to wear apparel items (with the bowl logo on them) that we pay for,” Deputy Director of Athletics Derek van der Merwe said. “The athletes will have a travel suit with the bowl logo on it for media appearances. That’s common in all bowl games.”
The athletics department also covered expenses for the dance and cheer teams, totaling $8,250.
Expenses for the CMU marching band cost $27,081, though athletics only paid $2,081. The provost’s office covered the additional $25,000.
On-campus meals and lodging for the band totaled $5,720, while $9,574 for bowl meals, $6,487 for bus transportation and $5,300 for apparel and equipment made up the rest of the budget.
The trip to the Motor City was the fourth for the Chippewas since 2006. CMU finished 7-6 on the season, marking the first winning season in the Dan Enos era.