By Peter Rossi, LAW WEEK COLORADO
DENVER — Although it’s widely believed that the recent 10-year football contract between the University of Colorado and Colorado State University is a done deal, the paperwork is still missing the signatures of top school officials as final details are hammered out.
But don’t expect the deal to collapse, representatives for the schools said last week. Both sides have indicated they are happy with the agreement, which was announced Aug. 31. But “the contracts aren’t executed yet, and we’re still finalizing it,” said Elvie Henderson, CU’s senior associate general counsel. The final piece is determining ticket prices, which CU Assistant Athletic Director Tom McGrath expects within 30 days.
In all, three agreements govern the extension of the so-called “Rocky Mountain Showdown” for 10 years at Invesco Field at Mile High. The game was played this year at Boulder’s Folsom Field, where stadium capacity and revenues are lower.
The first agreement is between the two universities to continue playing football for the next decade. Both sides said that there weren’t any contractual holdups and that they both wanted to have the series in Denver. “All parties involved are satisfied with the arrangements,” CSU Athletic Director Paul Kowalczyk said.
That agreement allots 55 percent of the tickets to CU and 45 percent to CSU. “The reason why that’s important is that every ticket that we sell out of those 55 percent of seats, the money stays in our athletic department,” McGrath said.
McGrath said CU officials did not want the fans thinking that for every dollar they spent on a ticket, 45 cents would go to CSU. “It might come out the same, but clearly schools are motivated to sell their own tickets because when you sell your own tickets through your own ticket office, then you keep 100 percent of the revenue,” he said.
The “foremost issue was ticket sales,” Henderson agreed.
The second agreement is between the schools and the Metro Denver Sports Commission, which is tasked with marketing the game in Denver. That agreement includes both schools providing the commission with promotional tickets. Neither McGrath nor Kowalczyk would disclose the financial agreement reached with the commission.
The sports commission is a nonprofit organization charged with bringing sporting events to the Denver area. Similar agreements with the commission were in place the past three years the game was played at Invesco.
“They’re a third party that will go out and try to sell sponsorships and promote the game in Denver,” McGrath said. “Both schools are looking at a greater presence in the Denver market.”
The third agreement is between both schools and Invesco Field to play the game at that location for the next 10 years.
Television rights for the game are determined by whoever the home team is, and referees will be assigned from the conference the home team is from. The home squad will also coordinate all credentials for the schools, officials, dignitaries and the media.
The main reason there wasn’t a significant contract holdup in negotiations is because both schools financially benefit tremendously. “For us, it’s minimally an additional $600,000 to $800,000 in revenue” a year, Kowalczyk said. “Of course, it’s money we can use and put back into our program for the benefit of our student athletes.”
McGrath said, “There’s a lot more seats down in Denver for both schools, which benefits ours sponsors and our fan base. The financial model really works.”
Revenues from the games will go into the athletic departments, which will help fund scholarships. Last year, CSU’s scholarship tab for all student-athletes was $6.4 million, and CU’s bill was $8 million.