One of the biggest challenges for Gophers athletics is figuring out how to compete against other Big Ten programs that bring in more revenue each season.
The most recent reports out of Penn State said the football program alone brought in over $100 million in revenue in 2018. Compare that to the Gophers, whose entire athletic department brought in $125 million in revenue in 2018, with $115 million in operating expenses.
Athletic director Mark Coyle talked about how the Gophers can compete when other universities are bringing in so much money in one sport.
“It’s like apples and oranges when you compare different departments with respect to their budgets and how they count their revenue,” Coyle said.
“I know as a member of the Big Ten, we all get the same equal share from the NCAA and the Big Ten with respect to those moneys from the television contracts. The one thing Penn State has is an incredibly big [football] stadium, and they fill that stadium each week, so they have an advantage with that big stadium to generate more revenue than a lot of people across the country. There is no doubt that revenue feeds not only the men’s hockey program at Penn State but all the other Olympic sports as well.”
The capacity for the Nittany Lions’ Beaver Stadium is 106,572; for the Gophers’ TCF Bank Stadium, it is 50,805. Coyle said attendance can make a huge difference in revenue totals.
“That helps, no doubt,” he said. “Over 100,000 people and I don’t know the cost of their season tickets, but that’s sold out each week. That does generate significant revenue for them that other programs don’t have the opportunities to have, just because the stadiums aren’t as big.”
Penn State brought in $34 million in revenue in 2018 football ticket sales alone. The Gophers brought in $11.1 million. Wisconsin, by comparison, brought in $22.7 million — more than double the Gophers’ total.
The Badgers had operating expenses of $150 million last season and revenue of $152 million.
The Gophers’ $10 million in earnings for 2018 came despite a lack of attendance in the athletic department’s three major revenue sports: men’s basketball, men’s hockey and football.
Twins play overseas?
In a recent conversation with Twins President Dave St. Peter, he said the club continues to be interested in playing international regular-season games.
In late June, the Yankees and Red Sox will have a big series in London, the first time Major League Baseball has featured games there. Last April, the Twins played their first regular-season game away from the contiguous United States or Canada when they faced the Indians for two games in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
St. Peter said MLB is always trying to find ways to raise their visibility around the world. They also have to keep up with the NBA, which has made headway into China and other Asian countries, and the NFL, which has done a good job of expanding into Europe.
“There has obviously been a huge push over time, you see it with the National Football League and all of the games they have played in London. You see it in the NBA and NHL. Baseball is no different,” St. Peter said. “There is a big focus on trying to grow our sport internationally.
“We’ll play our first games in Europe this year with the Yankees and Red Sox playing in London. We have talked to Major League Baseball about could there be a day where the Twins and [German outfielder] Max Kepler go play a game in Germany? I mean, it’s feasible.”
On another subject, St. Peter and Coyle have had several conversations about playing a Gophers hockey game at Target Field against Wisconsin or another big rival. This could happen in the near future.
The Twins have had great success holding other sporting events at the stadium.
St. John’s and St. Thomas played to the largest crowd in Division III football history at Target Field when they brought in 39,000 fans in 2017.
And this Aug. 31, seven-time FCS champion North Dakota State and Butler will play football at Target Field. Early ticket sales suggest the game could be another near-sellout.
The Gophers baseball team also has plans to play off campus, returning to U.S. Bank Stadium for nonconference spring games next season. This year they were not able to play there because of Final Four preparations.
And don’t be surprised if the Gophers men’s basketball team again plays a nonconference game at U.S. Bank Stadium, as it did against Oklahoma State in November.
Taylor on Rose
The Timberwolves coaching staff and front office has built up a great relationship with veteran point guard Derrick Rose, who is a free agent.
Rose had one of his best recent seasons with the Wolves before surgery on a right elbow injury shortened his year. He averaged 18.0 points, matching the fourth-highest average of his career, to go along with 4.3 assists and 2.7 rebounds per game. He also shot a career-high 37% on three-pointers and had the second-highest field-goal percentage of his career at 48.2%.
Wolves owner Glen Taylor said a number of circumstances will determine whether Rose returns to the Wolves next season, but said there is no doubt they want to bring him back if possible.
“I think a couple of thing that are important is you want to talk to your medical staff, who have worked with him very closely and is aware of the type of injuries that he has,” said Taylor, who also owns the Star Tribune. “I think you listen to their advice, I think you listen to him — I think he knows his body and he will tell you — and I think you have to make sure if you bring him here [and] it’s limited minutes he can play in a game or take every fourth game off, you have to listen to that and decide if that is something you’re willing to live with during the year.”
Taylor said in conversations with Rose, the 2011 NBA MVP from his time with the Chicago Bulls has told him he would like to return.
“What he has done this year has been a great help for our team,” Taylor said. “We just have to remember that he is a player, because of his injuries, that we have to not play him too many minutes, but utilize his skill sets when we need him out there on the floor. [We could] play him limited minutes in both the first half and the second half.”
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