Expenses for bowl wipe out windfall

UNLV wants to get as much public exposure as possible for its football program in the Heart of Dallas Bowl.

The New Year’s Day game against North Texas is a chance for the Rebels to showcase their program to a national audience, especially recruits, on ESPNU.

When it comes to their financial exposure, however, the Rebels are trying to be much more cautious.

The Heart of Dallas Bowl usually pays $1.1 million per team, but because it isn’t a contracted game with the Mountain West, the figure will be considerably lower when the money makes its way through the conference to the school. Athletic director Tina Kunzer-Murphy said she expected UNLV to receive about $600,000.

Expenses will be approximately $800,000. Between selling tickets — the Rebels have a $400,000 commitment — and securing sponsors, UNLV hopes to come close to breaking even but at this point faces closer to a $200,000 deficit.

“We’re calling all of our donors and are asking a lot of people to make this a quality experience,” Kunzer-Murphy said. “So we’re hoping to get the number down. I think that because it’s a unique situation for UNLV to be in a bowl game that’s Jan. 1, and it’s not part of the normal Mountain West conference tie-ins, it puts a little more burden on us because of the time and the extra days, which is really a lot of our expense.”

She said she has been in contact with Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson about possibly receiving “additional dollars.”

“He knows our concerns,” Kunzer-Murphy said. “There are some historical data that support requests on some of these bowls.”

She specifically pointed to the financial considerations provided to teams that participate in the Hawaii Bowl.

Because of the location and the timing of UNLV’s bowl trip, the logistics aren’t easy.

Players will fly into Dallas separately on commercial flights because most will return to their various homes for Christmas. The school will arrange schedules so the arrivals all are within a couple of hours of each other on Dec. 28.

The band, at a cost of $85,000 for the entire trip, later will be flown in as part of about an overall 300-member contingent.

For the team and what’s called essential staff, the flights alone are budgeted for $100,000. That is based on an average ticket of $500, so the cost could, and perhaps should, end up lower than that total.

“It takes a lot to move a football team and all its support staff,” Kunzer-Murphy said.

UNLV hoped to arrange a chartered flight to Dallas for fans attending the game, but the cost was too high. The school instead worked out an agreement with American Airlines, the dominant carrier at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, and travelers who use the code 12D3BS at aa.com receive 5 percent off on flights from Las Vegas to DFW.

A group rate of $189 plus tax is available at the Hyatt Regency Dallas.

Fans interested in traveling to the game who have additional questions can call Erick Harper at the Rebel Athletic Fund at (520) 955-2425.

UNLV can’t accurately track how many of its supporters buy tickets because a large number of alumni live in Texas and won’t purchase through the athletic department. Also, secondary markets such as StubHub are popular ways to buy tickets that are difficult to track by team support.

“At the end of the day, we’ll all decide was it worth it?” Kunzer-Murphy said. “I would say at the end of the day (coach) Bobby (Hauck) and his football team and all of us at UNLV will take a really good look at it and say absolutely, it was.

“It means a lot to our program.”

Contact reporter Mark Anderson at manderson@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2914. Follow him on Twitter: @markanderson65.