Iowa vs. ISU a money-maker

Published: September 10 2009 | 7:01 am - Updated: 30 March 2014 | 9:14 am in
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Ticket prices and funding formulas have provided enough discussion fodder in recent years to nearly trump the Iowa-Iowa State game itself.

Through 2012, the host school pays the visitor 20 percent of the gate, which has favored Iowa State primarily because Iowa’s Kinnick Stadium has 15,000 more seats. The schools also have designated each other as a premium opponent, which has sent single-game prices soaring.

Since 2004, Iowa State has received nearly $1.8 million in revenue sharing by playing at Iowa, about $600,000 each year. The Hawkeyes, in two trips, have received $717,303, or about $360,000 annually.

The schools use different formulas for paying one another. According to Steve Malchow, ISU’s senior athletics director for communications, Iowa State determines the gate as the total of single-game ticket revenues plus season-ticket revenues divided by the number of games played. Iowa State also chooses to divide revenue equally into thirds from the school’s $99 three-game mini-pack, in which Iowa is included. So Iowa’s 20 percent comes from the average of all Iowa State home games, not just its own appearance at Jack Trice Stadium.

Iowa uses strictly the Iowa State home date to pay its gate share, according to Iowa Associate Athletics Director Mick Walker.

The schools use one another to boost revenues. They charge premium prices from the visitor’s 4,000-ticket allotment. Iowa State has charged Iowa fans $90 and $92, respectively, for the 2007 game and Saturday’s game at Jack Trice. Iowa charged ISU fans $65 for the 2008 game at Kinnick.

Iowa State Athletics Director Jamie Pollard has called the rivalry between the schools “healthy” but competitive. Pollard was traveling Wednesday and unavailable for comment.

Ticket prices were one factor in a disagreement between the schools two years ago. In 2005, former ISU Athletics Director Bruce Van De Velde and ex-Iowa Athletics Director Bob Bowlsby exchanged correspondence to extend the series through 2020. By 2006 both had left their schools, but Iowa officials maintained that the series ended in 2010 because there was no contract. The schools agreed to a contract last year that extends the series through 2017 but allows the host school to keep all the gate beginning in 2013.

“I think the rivalry is the most important thing,” Iowa Athletics Director Gary Barta said. “But everything we do in the athletic department at Iowa and Iowa State is making sure we’re making good business decisions. Jamie and I sat down and negotiated. It was a healthy, good, back-and-forth negotiation. I’m happy with where it ended up.”

Even with the extension, there is significant financial disparity among the programs. According to documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, Iowa’s football program earned more than $38.1 million for fiscal 2008 while Iowa State earned just more than $17.4 million. Those documents are the most recent ones available.

Iowa earned $15.81 million in ticket revenue during the 2007 season, and Iowa State earned $9.75 million. Iowa’s football expenses far exceeded Iowa State — $26.16 million to $9.83 million. Also, Iowa outspent Iowa State in coaching salaries and benefits, $5.43 million to $2.79 million.

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