Gazette Story On Football Contracts With Gillette, MAC - UMass Athletics

Gazette Story On Football Contracts With Gillette, MAC

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Responding to a freedom of information request from the Daily Hampshire Gazette, UMass released its new contracts cementing its recent agreements to join the Mid-American Conference and play home games at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough. Both were essential components to the program's upgrade to Bowl Subdivision football.

• UMass releases contract details of football upgrade

UMass releases contract details of football upgrade

According to the contracts that made the University of Massachusetts football program's upgrade possible, the Minutemen will have an almost even split in ticket revenue with Gillette Stadium and will become more than just rivals with Temple in the Mid-American Conference.

Responding to a freedom of information request from the Daily Hampshire Gazette, UMass released its new contracts cementing its recent agreements to join the Mid-American Conference and play home games at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough. Both were essential components to the program's upgrade to Bowl Subdivision football.

Gillette contract

The contract says that the first $300,000 of ticket revenue from UMass games in Foxborough will be split evenly between UMass and Gillette Stadium, which is listed in the contract as NPS LLC, its official company name. It's owned by The Kraft Group. If ticket revenue exceeds $300,000, Gillette would take out money to cover the cost of "staffing and operation of the Stadium for the Event." Any remaining revenue would be split equally between UMass and Gillette.

The contract also stipulates that the average ticket price will be no less than $24.50, meaning there will be tickets priced above and below that figure.

At that average, which doesn't include UMass students' fee tickets, to reach $300,000 in revenue, only 12,245 tickets would need to be sold per game.

Gillette will cover all staffing costs and will receive all revenue from concession sales, which will include beer. Alcoholic beverages are not available to the general public at McGuirk Stadium.

UMass will have control of five of the 86 suites and one of the two super suites at Gillette. Suites range from 16-32 person capacity, while super suites can hold as many as 70. Gillette will control the remaining suites.

Parking, which was free for UMass' game against New Hampshire at Gillette last year, will remain free.

UMass athletic director John McCutcheon said UMass will have the option of selling some temporary signs and ads on the video board to sponsors. He said the school has already begun reaching out to potential eastern Massachusetts-based sponsors.

"We're early in it, but that will definitely be a focus for us," McCutcheon said.

Final Agreement for UMass to play football at Gillette Stadium

SEVEN ROAD GAMES - The contract with Gillette is for five home games in 2012 and 2013. Bowl Subdivision teams are allowed to play 12 regular season games. McCutcheon said he expects that during those two seasons, the Minutemen would likely play five home games - four league home games and one nonconference game - and seven road games.

Playing more road games would allow UMass to potentially be on the receiving end of multiple guarantee games - contests where the Minutemen would be paid to travel to an opponent with no return game in Foxborough.

UMass is also expected to schedule two-for-one series as well. In those the Minutemen would host an opponent once, and would play that same team on the road twice.

"I think you'll see us in this transition phase over the next four or five years, most years we're going to have five home games," McCutcheon said. "We're going to need a guarantee game (as a road team), and to play the nationally recognizable teams we want to come here, most likely we're going to have to play some two-for-ones."

McCutcheon, who expressed interest in reviving rivalries with Connecticut and Boston College when UMass announced its upgrade last month, said he's already had very preliminary discussions with representatives of both schools.

"We'd love to have them on the schedule," he said. "But they're under no obligation. They have their own programs to run, but it makes sense to me to build some rivalries again in New England that might help promote FBS football in the region. We'd love to have ongoing relationships with both schools. They have great programs. ... We haven't gotten down to brass tacks. Neither has been opposed to the concept."

McCutcheon said he wouldn't rule out playing either in a two-for-one situation.

LOCKER ROOM NOT INCLUDED - UMass expects to have a locker room added to Gillette Stadium, but plans for it were not included in the initial contract agreement.

"That was something that was going to take longer to pin down," McCutcheon said. "That's something that we're still working on."

MAC Membership Agreement

Temple and UMass have been Atlantic 10 basketball rivals for decades. Joining the MAC extends that to football. But the two schools, which are the MAC's sole football-only members, are more closely linked to each other than any of the MAC's other members.

Temple originally joined the MAC on a six-year contract in 2007 after being dropped by the Big East. UMass' contract calls for an open-ended agreement with no termination date. According to McCutcheon, Temple now has the same membership agreement as UMass.

If the Minutemen chose to withdraw from the MAC to join another Bowl Subdivision conference or become an FBS independent, UMass would be assessed a fee of $2.5 million and would be required to give two years advanced notice.

But if either UMass or Temple were to announce a decision to leave, the other's membership could change.

The MAC would have the option of retaining the remaining school as a full member, replacing the departing school with another program or converting the remaining team's membership to a term contract of no less than two years.

In the event of a term contract, the remaining school would only need to pay $500,000 if it chose to withdraw.

"We're aligned with them as the two football-only members. If something changes and one of us pursues another opportunity, it affects the other," McCutcheon said. "There are some assurances one way or the other that whoever would be remaining has some mechanisms to protect themselves.

"The exit assessment is significant," McCutcheon continued. "The MAC wanted to protect themselves from having too much turnover within the league, but they didn't want to overly penalize the institution that was not deciding to go."

Final Agreement between UMass and the Mid-American Conference

MONTH OLD - Unlike the Gillette deal, which was officially signed April 20 on the day of the press conference announcing the agreement, UMass quietly had an agreement in place to join the MAC on March 15, over a month before it was announced.

In accordance with the contract, UMass paid the conference a $500,000 initiation fee prior to March 31.

Like the conference's other members, UMass will annually pay the MAC a $100,000 annual assessment.

MISCELLANEOUS - As had been previously announced, UMass will play a full MAC schedule in 2012, but won't be eligible for postseason play until 2013. The Minutemen also won't be part of the MAC television package or receive revenue from it until 2013, meaning it's unlikely that many of their conference games will be televised.

McCutcheon wasn't sure how much each school received in television revenue from the MAC in 2010. Whatever it was, it will be an upgrade from the Colonial Athletic Association, where the schools and conference had to pay to have their games televised.

UMass is required to include MAC Football as part of its football-related marketing.

In matters of MAC voting, UMass can only vote on football-related items.

BASKETBALL SCHEDULING - While UMass is only joining the MAC in football, its men's and women's basketball schedules are affected. Beginning in 2012, the Minutemen and Minutewomen will play four games a year against MAC opponents, two at home and two on the road. The MAC office will create a rotating schedule of opponents.

"It wasn't something we were opposed to," McCutcheon said. "Scheduling with basketball is a challenge and it's getting more and more expensive to get teams to play us at home. This gives us an opportunity to do that without having to give huge guarantee money. I think we're going to get four quality games a year."

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