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Purdue Starting to Reap Football Financial Windfall

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Brohm is building it, and people are coming.

Minnesota v Purdue Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

A year ago Morgan Burke called Purdue football “A $5 million opportunity” and that it was only a matter of how quickly Purdue got the fans back. This was just before a season where attendance bottomed out at an average of 34,451 fans over 7 home games during the 2016 season.

Well, the fans are back.

In a report published by Mike Carmin in the Lafayette Journal & Courier today Purdue is well on its way to passing that number:

The school announced an average of 49,253 for matchups against Ohio, Michigan and Minnesota. The Sept. 23 game against Michigan was the program’s first sellout in nine years.

That’s an increase of nearly 15,000 fans per game more. More importantly, it took a single game, and a loss at that, to renew interest. Following the close loss to Louisville in Indianapolis. From Sunday to Tuesday over Labor Day weekend Purdue sold an additional 13,000 tickets for the home opener, all as a result of the first game.

Halfway through the home season here is how the attendance matches up with last year.

Purdue Football Attendance

2016 Attendance 2017 Attendance
2016 Attendance 2017 Attendance
Eastern Kentucky 32,074 Ohio 45,633
Cincinnati 33,068 Michigan 60,042
Nevada 41,607 Minnesota 42,085
Iowa 40,239 Nebraska
Penn State 33,157 Illinois
Northwestern 30,548 Indiana
Wisconsin 30,465
TOTAL 241,158 TOTAL 147,760

This season Purdue has one fewer home game, but is still on pace to pass last season’s total attendance even before the season finale with Indiana if it keeps up the 49,000 per game average. This does not include the Louisville game in Indianapolis, where Purdue will get at least some of the revenue (though it is not clear how much.

Here is more on the forecasted budget for this year:

In its 2017-18 athletic department budget, Purdue forecasted just over $11 million in ticket sales and guarantees, which includes all of its sports. It’s part of $93.1 million in revenue the athletic department is expected to receive, including $53.6 million from Big Ten Conference and NCAA distributions.

Because of the Big Ten’s new television deal, Purdue is seeing an increase of around $17 million from the conference compared to the 2016-17 budget.

The additional $17 million from TV revenue obviously helps. Last year Purdue expected a little more than $77.1 million in revenue. But let’s do some estimating. At almost 15,000 fans per game say those tickets went for an average of $35 a seat (Purdue has some seats for less, especially for the Ohio game, but has most seats in the $45, $55, and $75 range. That comes out to an extra $525,000 per game and, over 6 games, $3.15 million. Of course, this is before any concessions are sold, and from what I have seen, there have been a lot of $9 Boiler Golds sold.

How bad has it been? Purdue hasn’t been over 40,000 per game since 2013 and over 50,000 per game since 2009. It is entirely possible that we could get over 50,000 per game too. Nebraska traditionally travels well, although this year with a down team that may not be true. The Nebraska game still has quite a few tickets available on the ends. The Illinois game is selling moderately well. The Indiana game has quite a few seats left, but could approach a sellout as we get closer to the game. If we can get at least 45,000 for both Nebraska and Illinois and sell out the Indiana game we’ll be really close to 50,000 per game, which would be huge.

Purdue is projecting an income of $93.1 million this year against a projected budget of $81.1 million. A big portion of the rest will go towards debt service, especially on the new football facility, but it may actually be a profit as opposed to the hidden profit from last year. The extra income from ticket sales can pay off that debt faster and get the South End Zone project underway soon.

So why not support the team now? Buy a three-game pack and come to all three games! I think we can fly past 45,000 per game and get to 50,000 per game. It would be hilarious if it took only a year, and one less home game, to beat Morgan’s infamous $5 million opportunity. With that and the increased Big Ten money the football program is ready for its leap forward.