When it comes to deciding if Clemson will be playing football or not in the fall, deputy athletic director Graham Neff says the school and the athletic department are nowhere near making that decision at this time.
“That is on the back half of the back nine, where we are still on the front nine, sort of speak, of making some of these decisions,” he said to The Clemson Insider.
When can Clemson and college football fans expect a decision to be made? Right now, no one is clear on an answer.
Due to the impact of COVID-19 in the sports community, Clemson sent out an update to IPTAY and season-ticket holders on Friday. For 2020 football season ticket and parking requests, the deadline has been extended for a second time this spring, this time to May 15. As IPTAY previously communicated, the completion of the 2020 IPTAY pledge is now on June 30.
Clemson also altered its refund policy in case of a shortened season or cancellation. Should the 2020 season be cancelled, season-ticket holders can be refunded the cost of their tickets or receive a credit for the 2021 season.
If the Tigers play a shortened schedule, they will be refunded a prorated amount for the tickets to cancelled games. If the season is altered, IPTAY will reach out in a later communication with options regarding their IPTAY commitment.
“We are trying, as are many other athletic programs, to be conscious to this circumstance as we can be, understanding that we should be planning to play,” Clemson Athletic Director Dan Radakovich said to TCI. “There are certain timelines to allow us to order tickets. Maybe, this is the year, and Clemson is so uniquely positioned for this because of the success over the last few years and the understanding and utilization for mobile ticketing. Maybe, this is the year we jump the ditch and we move to mobile ticketing because it does allow for a lot quicker way of getting the tickets into the people’s hands.
“So, there are a lot of things we are looking at, but we don’t have a lot of answers right now. There are more questions than answers.”
What would it mean for the Clemson Athletic Department if the 2020 football season is cancelled or even if part of the season is canceled?
Last year, Clemson made roughly $5.5 million per game, including ticket revenue, which was the primary driver. Also included in that figure are concessions, premium-area donations and in-stadium merchandise sales.
If the season is cut short, the Clemson Athletic Department stands to lose millions. For example, if the season begins in October, like some have suggested, then Clemson will lose three home games off the schedule … the Louisville, Akron and Virginia games.
That adds up to $16.5 million and that does not include the impact it would have on the ACC’s financial distribution to its league members, which includes television revenue. Clemson hopes to budget somewhere in the ballpark of $32 million from the ACC in the 2020-’21 Fiscal Year.
ACC Commissioner John Swofford previously said football was responsible for 80 percent of the television revenue. So, if the season was shortened by four games that could be another $6.4 million.
“There are a lot of television dollars that come via the ACC,” Neff said.
Clemson is planning to budget $125 to $127 for FY ’21, roughly $28 million of that comes from Clemson Football ticket sales. Last year, Clemson set a record in season ticket sales with close to 60,000 sold.
However, because of COVID-19, the athletic department is anticipating that coming down some this coming season as Clemson fans, like other American sports fans, will likely not venture into packed stadiums as often as they have in the past.
Of course, if there is a drop in season tickets, then that could lead to a drop in IPTAY donations, which Clemson is planning to be somewhere in the neighborhood of $35 to $40 million. Also, if there is a shortened season then there will likely be a reduction in IPTAY donations.
“Those are the three main buckets that would be at risk as it relates to deviations or reductions or cancellations of a football season,” Neff said.
When it is all said and done, a shortened season could cost Clemson somewhere in the range of $25 to $30 million.
“Football, like at most FBS schools, but in particular at Clemson, it is certainly the engine and we have a really big engine at Clemson to our athletics’ train,” Neff said.
The economic impact could be even worse for the city of Clemson and the surrounding areas.
In other words, if Clemson cannot play an entire football season in 2020, then there could be some big changes in the athletic department in 2021.
Clemson fans now is the time to support the local businesses.
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