Air Force will make about $500,000 less than it originally planned from its game against Washington on Saturday at Qwest Field unless a late rush of ticket sales makes the game profitable for the promoter who bought it. Though Air Force’s original contract with promoter Bob Walsh Enterprises to move the game from Falcon Stadium to Seattle included a $2.3 million guarantee plus travel expenses, Air Force agreed to renegotiate the deal after it became apparent the game would not be a sellout. Only about 20,000 tickets have been sold for the 65,000-seat Qwest Field, home of the Seattle Seahawks. Senior associate athletic director Mike Saks said Air Force would try to make up the $500,000 difference by partnering again with Walsh on a future men’s basketball event in Seattle. Saks, who oversees the athletic department’s budget, said it did not make sense to hold Walsh to the original terms in light of the ticket situation. “What’s the benefit? You may or may not get your money,” Saks said. “Most likely you won’t get it because on something that big, Bob Walsh Enterprises would probably have to file bankruptcy and you’d end up in court. “That’s not what we want to do. It doesn’t serve any purpose. Now you’ve got two groups at each other about money. That’s not what it’s about. “We’re not doing this just for money. We’re going to make money no doubt about it, but there’s a lot more things involved.” Though Air Force believes there will be a recruiting benefit from holding the game in Seattle, and Air Force will still generate more revenue by holding the game in Seattle than it would at Falcon Stadium under the new terms, money was a large factor. Air Force’s athletic department lost $2.4 million in its most recent fiscal year, and that shortfall provided a significant amount of justification for not having a home game on Parents Weekend for the first time since 1988. “Financing is a concern here when you’re funding a program with 27 Division I sports, and so the contract was signed with the profitable return and being the team player I am, I agreed for us to go out there and play,” football coach Fisher DeBerry said Tuesday during a teleconference. “Now that it’s here, it’s going to be a lot different because we’re still having Parents Weekend, and this place will be packed and they’re not going to have anything to rally around because there won’t be a game as in past years. It’s such a big weekend and all the parents come back for this because our kids don’t get to go home as much as state university kids, but we’ll be in Seattle and we’re going to have a good following out there and we’re excited about playing in the stadium.” Air Force has already taken in roughly $800,000 from Walsh up front, and Saks said $1 million more is guaranteed after the game. That leaves $500,000 missing from the original $2.3 million guarantee, which Saks said could be recouped in part if the game turns a profit. The original contract called for a 75-25 percent split of profits in favor of Walsh. Saks said the new contract reverses that, giving Air Force 75 percent of profits. Saks said attendance would need to be in the low 40,000 range to reach the profit point. CONTACT THE WRITER: 636-0258 or email@example.com
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