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CU Buffs hoping for big profit from Texas A&M game

Colorado, Texas A&M scheduled to meet Sept. 11 at Empower Field at Mile High in Denver

BOULDER, CO - Dec. 12, 2020: ...
BOULDER, CO – December 12, 2020: CU head coach, Karl Dorrell, leads the team out on the field. The Colorado Buffaloes and the Utah Utes played at Folsom Field in Boulder on December 12, 2020. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

Playing Texas A&M in Denver this fall could be a financial boost for the Colorado Buffaloes.

When CU announced earlier this week that its Sept. 11 game against Texas A&M will be scheduled for Empower Field at Mile High, rather than at Folsom Field in Boulder, it was done with the hope that fans will be allowed to attend and a significant profit can be made by playing in a larger venue.

“We looked at an opportunity, knowing that the (Colorado State) game hasn’t happened there for a couple years and the interest both by the Denver Broncos and the city of Denver in having a neutral site game,” said Cory Hilliard, CU’s senior associate athletic director of business operations.

Empower Field at Mile High has a capacity of 76,125, compared to 50,183 at Folsom Field in Boulder. The COVID-19 pandemic didn’t allow CU to have fans last season, but there is hope that fans will be allowed next fall.

If full capacity is allowed, Hilliard said CU is projecting a potential $2-3 million profit from the game in Denver. An above average net profit at Folsom Field, such as Nebraska’s visit in 2019, would be around $1-1.5 million, Hilliard said.

CU and CSU played each other in Denver 19 times from 1998-2019, including every year from 2010-19. For those games, CU collected 55 percent of ticket revenue with 45 percent going to CSU.

Although CU will pay A&M a guarantee of $1.2 million to play the game this fall, the Buffs will get 100 percent of the ticket revenue.

“Given the size of Empower Field versus Folsom, it gives us another 20,000-plus tickets to work with, in addition to – and this is the big one – the premium sections of the suites in the club level,” Hilliard said. “So we feel that there’s a huge lift in opportunity there with some of those premium spaces for Texas A&M fans and alumni that could help drive some of the revenue opportunities there.”

The possibility of playing Texas A&M in Denver was written into the original contract in 2015, when the teams agreed to a home-and-home set. The Buffs and Aggies were scheduled to play last season in College Station, Tex., but the game was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It will not be rescheduled.

The cancellation of the 2020 game could have voided the contract and eliminated the 2021 game, as well, but the two schools worked out an agreement to play in Denver. The $1.2 million guarantee was added so that Texas A&M could make up for some lost revenue from the 2020 game being canceled. Power 5 teams typically don’t exchange game guarantees for home-and-home sets, but will for one-off games. In 2016, for example, CU was paid $1.45 million to visit Michigan.

In addition to its game guarantee, Texas A&M will have the opportunity to purchase up to 6,000 tickets for its fans. The Broncos, meanwhile, will collect revenue from concessions.

The game against A&M will not be a part of CU’s season ticket package. However, season ticket holders will have the first opportunity to purchase tickets this spring before the general public. Unlike the Denver matchups against CSU, CU will have more control to accommodate seating preferences for its season-ticket holders who opt in for the Texas A&M game.

CU will also have a section of seats in the lower bowl slotted for Texas A&M fans.

Even with the A&M game moving to Denver, CU has its usual six games scheduled for Folsom Field, including the season opener on Sept. 3 against Northern Colorado and a Sept. 18 matchup with Minnesota. Pac-12 foes Arizona, Oregon State, Southern California and Washington are scheduled to come to Boulder, but those dates have not been announced.

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