Props To UConn Sticking To Its Guns Regarding Michigan

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Just got back from the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce Breakfast in Cromwell featuring guest speaker Warde Manuel, the new UConn athletic director and Michigan grad.

I asked him about the Michigan game at Rentschler Field in 2013…

The reason I asked because as you know there was some chatter about this game being moved to a bigger venue other than The Rent.

That chatter was coming from Michigan not Connecticut.

The only thing Manuel told me regarding the game – and he said it definitively – was “we have a contract to play at Rentschler Field and that’s where we’re gonna play”

It’s my understanding this was more than chatter and Michigan definitely wanted to play somewhere else, possibly Giants Stadium – possibly. No specifics were discussed between the two sides.

I also learned this morning that before there was even change-of-venue talk Michigan wanted to buy the game out, period.

It still can and may do that but it’s gonna cost the Wolverines $2 million to buy it’s way out and the same goes for Tennessee if it tries to wiggle its way out of the 2015 game.

That is a LOT of money to pay NOT to play a game.

Now, there were several UConn officials at the breakfast today and regarding this issue a prominent one told me “We can’t do that. The game is too important to people here to play it anywhere else but Rentschler.”


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36 thoughts on “Props To UConn Sticking To Its Guns Regarding Michigan

  1. Steve

    This chatter has been ongoing since the game was announced several years ago. Michigan would more than make up that $2million in ticket sales alone from the extra home game, so I don’t see them hesitating to buyout if necessary. Just move the game to Gillette Stadium and be done with it. It’ll garner more local and national media attention anyway.

    1. dconner Post author

      Oh, you see them buying out if necessary? What would make the game “necessary” to buyout? And who mentioned anything about Gillette Stadium? Game might garner more exposure at a larger venue but who’s thinking about media attention?

  2. Jason

    Why the Meadowlands, which is a miserable traffic trip for a lot of UConn fans? If the game is to be played anywhere other than Rentschler Field, it should be played at Gillette Stadium. More convenient to the UConn campus and to the players.

  3. Kevin

    Since UConn’s stadium is only slightly larger than MAC schools, here’s what a smart MAC school did. Toledo hosted Ohio St. two years ago. They did not play in the Glass Bowl. They played at Cleveland Browns Stadium. UT sold it’s fans the tickets they wanted and OSU fans bought the rest. UT walked away with over 4 million. The game was televised on ESPN.

    I understand you want a true home game with Michigan. Is a crowd of 5K Mich/35K UConn any different than 20K Mich/55K UConn? Yes, a few million dollars.

  4. Roger Horton

    Why not move the venue to the Meadowlands? The bottom-line is revenue – the bigger the venue, the more each school makes.

    Take a look at the upcoming Winter Classic – it’s being played at The Big House. Why? Bigger venue &, oh yeah, it’s Michigan.

    Michigan sells & they travel well. I thought UConn had a good business school – evidently not as good as the Ross Business School. Is it time for a remedial course, folks?

    Go Blue!

  5. Sully

    Move the games to a later start time will significantly increase attendance. Saturday mornings are brutal with kids activities and travel sports. Move back to 3pm and families will attend together thus building current and future fan base.

    1. Navin R. Johnson

      Let’s do that just for Connecticut and their fans. Just for us. Come on…lets be real here…it’s based off of t.v. and the importance of the game. There are reasons as to why games start at 12pm.

  6. Dave

    Three things that will build the fan base over 40,000. 1.
    Play a competitive non-conference schedule Michigan, Tennessee, Notre Dame etc. At least two of the upper echelon type of schools a year. 2. I hate to sound like Charlie Sheen but WINNING. 3. If you have seven home games, play one at Gillette or MetLife Std. It would have the feel of a bowl game. Better yet I’m sure the big name football schools would love to play in historic Yale Bowl. PS: UConn your over priced for the product you give us fans. There should be $10.00 tickets in the end zones. Now you have seelouts each week and you can expand the std.

  7. fustrated smart fan

    So how can you fill a stadium with 55,000 seats easily in Conn., Hartford area with I-84 and I-91 right there? Want the answer, of course you do. This goes for Umass also. YOU MUST BUILD A FAN BASE FROM ALL OF THE LOCAL HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS WITH HI-SCHOOL STUDENT FRIENDLY PRICES.I wish that there was a college football game that all of us hi-school football players could go to see live back in the day to give the players and kids something to do and stay out of trouble.The parents would have loved the concept. You have to start building the fan base early ( customers for all of you smart business people). Ask NIKE, or Walmart or Apple or Facebook–Do kids spend money? They spend the parent’s money. Will Uconn accept the parent’s money in a round about way? Build the expansion and they will come as long as the correct entreprenurs are allowed to do some very creative, unfettered marketing because of the stadium location, location, location. Complaining about other Bloggers’ comments is folly and produces no positive vibes or gain.

  8. Artie A...

    I just shake my head here. Frustrated Smart Fan still continues to call herself that?
    Hal, first time I have ever disagreed with you, and I have traveled to your end of the state for years to work. Nothing but hours in traffic both ways. Most game days would not present this. I simply would no longer buy seasons tickets if the premier game of the season is going to be an away game.
    First a contract should be just that. Next, folks here should look at the entire picture. The reason they get a Tenn or M to come here is to sell the season ticket.
    That is the guarantee you would get into one of those games. With WVU Pitt Cuse gone if I do not get one or two premiere games a year why would anyone pay a donation price?
    A home game cannot be played anywhere but at home. Nobody has mentioned the student section on this subject do we just drop them completely?
    No no no…they need Tenn and the M and more at home as season ticket sales are already hurting and discounted. If they take these games elsewhere I would find no reason to pay what I do. I can walk up and still get a good seat. Yes the product must improve on the field but our fans should not be calling for games to be played away from home. Simply another showing of a fan base not seeing the big picture. Simply not smart business to be polite….Just say’n…..

  9. Hal

    The Rent was built with expansion in mind. I would assume that expanding it to at least 50,000 to 55,000 seats is physically possible at a cost effective cost per seat.
    However, that will clearly not happen if we only attract 30,000 to 40,000 fans which is the present situation.
    So if we want to see our program grow into a more or less consistent top 30 nationally ranked team with similiar teams willing to establish home and home series with us, we just as importantly have to grow the fan base significantly (and probably the ticket prices as well) to justify the expense of this expansion and the attractiveness of premier home and home games.
    I believe, as others have stated that to do that we have to get more exposure (and parallel success on the field)and build more excitement not just among those who live within 30 miles or so of the Rent but those who are significantly further away.
    I happen to live in Stamford which is well over an hour away, and attend 2 or 3 games a year, sometimes alone and sometimes with a couple of friends I “pick up” in Ridgefield, but most of my friends (and almost all of the wives) have not yet embraced the team.
    Playing one game a year in NY, NJ or Boston will, in my opinion, not just get most of our “local” loyal fan base to make the trip as a much anticipated event (sort of a “Bowl Game”) but it will very much help us to reach out to a larger area of alumni and sports fans and bring some percentage of them to the Rent on a regular basis (especially if we create a value proposition and availability preference around a package of one ticket to the “Premium Game” and one ticket to the Rent).
    All of this is in addition to the benfits of TV exposure in creating additional interest among future fans and recruits.

  10. fustrated smart fan

    I am so sorry that i did not keep crying out loud that uconn must expand the rent if they want to play big time football and get big time players. Umass refuses to play cupcakes and therefore now has free use of the foxboro stadium. We would see how fast uconn would play michigan at foxboro for free or reduced rent. Has anybody asked Kraft for a donation humbly just for giggles? The big boys are not personal touchy feely, especially if they can project fannys in the seats buying hot dogs and beer and chips and popcorn and the ” bums ” collecting empty cans. C’mon, do not forget the money, be like CPTV when they got stiffed by the smart administrators and quickly went for the money with the SUN. I will accept any donations,will you, or do you hate money?

    1. TheJerk

      having an 80000 seat stadium thats 1/2 empty still doesnt really draw too much attention. Ask Cincy

  11. Dave

    You gotta love Notre Dame they said they won’t play at the Rent because only 40,000 seats. But they played at Wake Forest last year and it only hold’s 38,000. I can’t wait to NBC passes on the next contract.

  12. MrLogical

    As one poster said, time to swallow some pride. Face it: UCONN FB is in a very precarious place right now and standing our ground on ‘principle’ may have some moral appeal but it makes no sense from a business perspective.

    UCONN needs as much visibliity and publicity as it can manage right now and if M wants to play in a larger venue like the Meadowlands, we’d be smart to take them up. More TV revenue, more visibility and who knows – maybe even a chance to pull off an upset on a national stage.

    It’s time for the program to gamble a bit and games with M and Tennessee afford that chance. As the saying goes: Go big or go home.

    1. TheJerk

      I kind of have to agree with the last 2 comments as well about playing in NE/NJ. But I’ve always said, (even with the upcoming ND series) that as long as UC still has 6 home games, I’m fine with it. It does make business sense to have your games on NBC/ABC. Face facts people if you want to see these teams, thats what youa re going to have to do in the future.


    Setting aside all of the “home town attitude”, many of the posts here border on a Napolean complex. Sure we all want to believe that the UCONN football program is on the rise and we should be treated on equal footing with the Michigans, Notre Dames and Tenn of the world. We are getting there; but not there yet. The most sense I saw in any earlier post was from Sean who is realistic.
    Why is Syracuse scheduling one “home game” per year at the Meadowlands? So they can get schools like USC to come play them! Excellent exposure in the metro NY market and on national/regional TV? YOU BET!
    Pride goeth before the fall, so swallow some pride and do what it takes to schedule top 10 schools. Foxboro and the Meadowlands are not so far away.

    1. Steve

      The issue at hand here isn’t a matter of thinking that the team has “made it” and deserves to have these elite teams come to us. The issue is, Michigan signed the contract to play this series knowing that they were to be playing at the Rent. Its not like it was sprung upon them there was a change of venue to a smaller capacity stadium and they had to deal with it. They signed it knowing full well where they were to play. Cowering to them and playing them at an NFL stadium doesn’t do anything for the state of UConn football, so why do them the favor? Playing at a place that holds 80,000 only allows 40,000 of their fans to buy tickets eliminating the home end of UConn’s home and home.

  14. Bill

    I don’t hear Michigan complaing when they play at Northwestern which holds just over 47K.Smallest stadium in the BIG.

    1. Mich Man

      “I don’t hear Michigan complaing when they play at Northwestern which holds just over 47K.Smallest stadium in the BIG.”

      Michigan does complain about it occasionally but there’s not much that can be done.

      Northwestern is an excellent academic institution and thus the Big Ten is happy to have them; remember the Big Ten is an academic organization (with the U. of Chicago participating too) as well as athletic. I read that when the Big Ten was dividing into conferences, believe it or not most teams wanted to have Northwestern in their division — they provide access to the Chicago market.

  15. Blades

    Has anyone read or reported what the Michigan AD has said regarding the game ? This is the headline from article from April 24th, 2012:
    UConn controls site of 2013 football game against Michigan……

    The article also says: Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon told reporters Monday that the school has every intention of playing the Huskies at Rentschler Field, which has a capacity of roughly 40,000.

    “We have a contract with UConn to go to their campus and play that game,” Brandon said. “That contract is one we’re absolutely going to honor as we do all our contracts.

    “That’s all I can tell you about it right now.”

    So at this point it’s looks to be a go from the Michigan side, hopefully it stays that way…. just sayin’

  16. Steve

    I agree with the idea of whats so bad about playing in a 40,000 seat stadium? I know ND’s big issue was they have a big following and it wasn’t enough room to accommodate their fans. Isn’t it called a “road” game for a reason? The stadium is supposed to be filled with the home teams crowd, it’s not a neutral site game. If you are looking for a game on the east coast where your fans in this area can come see you, fine, but don’t arrange a home and home series and then look for a neutral site, it defeats the purpose.

    On another note, in terms of the size of the stadium, talk to RG III who has played in some of the largest stadiums college football has to offer and in his opinion the Rent is the loudest place he ever played. Stop being so selfish UM and live up to your end of the agreement!

  17. Navin R. Johnson

    @ Sean…NC State is going to be a top 20 team when they come to The Rent this fall. If you can’t get excited for a top 25 team playing Connecticut in Connecticut then you can’t get excited for anything. I do agree with you when Buffalo comes to town.

  18. Steve-CT

    Again, I ask, what is the issue with playing in a 40k stadium? Is it simply ego or do the visitors receive a peice of the gate?

  19. Dave

    Hey Sean your right on a lot of points, but when the contract was signed Michigan knew it was playing in a 40,000 seat stadium. By the way the real reason the two game football contract was signed was for Michigan’s inferior basketball team to play the UConn men in basketball. Football games were part of the deal that was agreed to. UConn made it known they would not play in MA or NJ. Michigan knew that when it was agreed to.

  20. Sean

    Ugh, didn’t we just go through this with Notre Dame? $2 million is nothing to Michigan…they’re making at least TWICE that playing Alabama in Dallas this year.

    Regardless of whether Michigan is in the wrong (duh, they are), they hold all the leverage because they are Michigan and in football, UConn is not.

    Id rather drive to Boston to watch UConn play Michigan or Notre Dame than go to the Rent and watch them play NC State or Buffalo.

    UConn is a very dangerous place right now in college football due to the power being consolidated in the Big Four conferences, and no, the ACC is not one of them.

    UConn football needs exposure. UConn football needs nationally televised games. While it is admirable to stand your ground, it’s going to backfire in this case because Michigan (and likely Tennessee) will just cut a check and move on.

    UConn threw away a decade of exposure against Notre Dame for political reasons. We’re about to lose Michigan and Tenn. for the same thing.

    Michigan doesn’t want to play in a tiny 40,000 seat stadium. The Big Ten just struck a deal to play a Pac-10 team every year. The Big Ten has a network. Michigan is getting $25 million PER YEAR just from TV contracts.

    At some point, the people in charge at UConn, and those covering UConn, need to realize UConn football & UConn basketball are in two very, very different places right now. Calhoun & Geno can play whatever cards they want.

    In football, UConn has zero leverage – no clout, no money, no exposure and no national significance. UConn is a lot closer to being Central Michigan than the University of Michigan in football. Short-sighted decisions like this are part of the problem.

    Buffalo at UConn on ESPN3….or Michigan vs. UConn in Boston on ABC…gee, let me think about that one.

    1. dconner Post author

      Good points. It comes down to this for me. Don’t the fans mean something? Don’t the UConn fans who have invested time, money, energy, passion, etc. deserve to wake up on a fall day in Sept. 2013, and see this game at the place they’ve always gone to see home games since the Rent opened? I think trying to set up a series in the future in NY, NJ or Mass would be an awesome idea and who knows with Warde Manuel’s connections anything can happen but this one? This one? Michigan has to play here or pay the 2 bills.

  21. Frank

    Every time I either hear ADWM speak or read an interview with him, I am liking him more and more. If this was Hathaway, I believe he would eventually kowtow to the bigger programs. I love that they are sticking to their guns and understanding that in order for the growth of this program, we NEED the big programs to come here and play in the Rent. I understand that other schools move their games all the time but this cannot happen if we are to grow and make this program what we want it to be. I am the eternal optimist and hope this game is played in ’13 but who knows. The Rent will be INSANE if this goes through! :)

  22. n.c. pratt

    Michigan could buy out the contract then schedule a 1AA game, pack their stadiun and probably make millions more. No loss to them. Michigan proudly proclaim themselves “Michigan Men” if they buyout the contract I can think of a lot of names for them, none of them printable.

    1. Roger Horton

      I have some printable names for “UConn Men:” short-sighted, obstinate &, obviously, appreciably-impaired for letting this slip away.

  23. Dave

    More lack of college integrity by the presidents and AD’s. Agree to a home and home and get the first game in at your field, then back out on the return game. Something stinks in the college game and it’s the presidents and AD’s. Like Mike Trangeese said they wanted control and they got it. Some role models for our students and athletes.

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