The 2012 edition of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup features changes to the host bidding process. Cup guru Josh Hakala of thecup.us discusses these new changes with regard to the fees paid to the U.S.S.F.
In 2012, a new system has been put in place where, in the first two rounds, if both teams meet the minimum venue standards, then a blind draw will determine who will host the match. The only consistency throughout the competition is the host team must pay the federation 15% of the gross gate receipts above $100,000. In Round 3, when Major League Soccer teams join the tournament, the same procedure will be followed, except that the host will also pay a flat hosting fee of $12,000 in advance of the match in addition to the potential 15% if they reach the $100k mark.
In Round 4, the hosting fee increases to $18,000 and then to $25,000 for the Quarterfinals.
The Semifinals and the Final will continue to utilize the sealed bid process from previous years.
The 15% of gross gate receipts more than $100,000 doesn’t seem like a problem for the Rhinos in Round 2. The second round, held on May 22, is when USL and NASL clubs enter the competition and the Rhinos are likely to play against an amateur team (PDL, NPSL, or USASA). This match will be held on a Tuesday night, and while attendance statistics are sparse for the cup, the Rhinos aren’t likely to draw much more than 3,000. I feel pretty comfortable saying that the Rhinos won’t collect close to $100,000 from the gate (3,000 * $15 tickets = $45,000).
There is however a slight chance that the Rhinos wouldn’t host their Round 2 match. If a team from NPSL (National Premier Soccer League) or PDL (Premier Development League) can meet the U.S.S.F.’s venue standards, then the Rhinos and the other team each have a 50% probability of winning the second round hosting rights.
A different arises if the Rhinos try to host a match in Round 3. The U.S.S.F. will require a flat hosting fee of $12,000 in addition to the 15% of gate receipts over $100,000. Last year the team drew 5,558 fans for the Tuesday night game against the Chicago Fire. With baseline general admission tickets at $10 and some premium seats set at $15 and $20, let’s say for the sake of mathematics that the average price of tickets is $15. If Rochester can drum up support for a weeknight game against an MLS team, say 6,500 spectators, that would create a gross gate receipt of $97,500. Granted this number is highly inflated because a lot more people buy $10 tickets than $20 ones and also 6,500 is a very hopeful predicted turnout, but even so this figure does not reach the point where the Rhinos would have to fork over a percentage of receipts to the U.S.S.F.
Another thing to take into account is that while the “gross gate receipts” figure does not mean profits (gross, not net), it also does not mean concessions. When I go to a Rhinos’ game I like to enjoy a few beverages, maybe a hot dog, and some nachos with friends. Two $4 drinks, a $6 hot dog and $5 nachos is $19. Not every spectator at the game will buy food or as much food as I do (I love greasy stadium food and carnival food), but there is probably one person like me for every 3 or 4 conservative soccer moms who make their kids eat before the game. Let’s just say, for the sake of my argument, that every 5 spectators spend $20 on food or drinks or other vendors’ items during the game. Even If we use the attendance figure from last year (5,558), we’re still looking at a gross of $22,000 on concessions for a Tuesday night game, which the U.S.S.F. does not have access to.
Between $20,000 gross from concessions and $80,000 (5,558 * $15) from gate receipts, the Rhinos organization is looking to rake in upwards of $100,000 gross from hosting a Round 3 U.S. Open Cup match against an MLS team. This seems to me to be worth the flat $12,000 hosting fee since gate receipts alone aren’t likely to trigger the extra payment to the U.S.S.F. That leaves the only hurdle to hosting actually winning the bid. Unless the MLS team is unwilling to submit a bid or unable to provide a stadium on a Tuesday night, the Rhinos will go in 50-50 with their opponent. If our organization does win the right to host an MLS team, the Rhinos will not only have a chance to knock-off a quality opponent in front of home fans but also the opportunity to make a boatload of money.