The most expensive road trips ever: Why bowl games cost what they cost
This shouldn't be breaking news to anyone: vacations are expensive. Moving one average-sized American family to the beach, or Disney World, or a new city, plus transportation, plus food, plus extras, will take a chunk out of anyone's budget. Now multiply that by about, oh, 100 and it's easy to see why headlines are made this time of year when the figures from bowl trips start to trickle out.
Thanks to Mark Snyder of the Detroit Free Press, we can look at exact figures from Michigan's trip to Tampa for the Outback Bowl to understand how, exactly, one football game can rival a Division III program's entire athletics budget.
Let's start with the travelling party. The Wolverines jetted a whopping 359 people among its team-and-staff party for an 11-day staff. Add together an 85-man roster, plus a 10-man coaching staff plus a few more support staffers and you get a whole lot of people taking a week and a half vacation on the maize and blue's dime. Even if every member of the travelling party shares a room, Michigan is still approaching a 2,000 night hotel bill. Now let's add another 332 band members and cheerleaders and another 18 university and athletic department big whigs for five nights apiece and Michigan is saddled with a $714,097 hotel bill.
Getting those 700-plus people to Tampa and back cost another $773,238. Moving the Wolverines' equipment and awards and entertaining the travelling party cost $84,000. Michigan also paid $39,000 in practice and laundry-related expenses. We've now passed the $1.6 million threshold, and it's not even game day yet.
The Outback Bowl required Michigan to purchase 10,300 tickets, 8,700 of which they were able to sell. Eating the remainder cost the Wolverines $118,990, but the Big Ten stepped in to cover just over $89,000 of that cost. All told, the Outback Bowl cost Michigan around $1.7 million.
The good news for Mike Vollmar, Michigan's director of football operations at the time, is that the trip came in under the Wolverines' $1.8 million budget.
While the Free Press was able to uncover the cost of Michigan's trip, there's no word on how much the Wolverines had to pay in counseling fees to recover from this.