Bowls Cut From New Orleans' Budget

Tuesday, June 27th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Legislative efforts to trim the state budget chopped $1 million from the Sugar Bowl and $250,000 from Shreveport's Independence Bowl.

Officials said the cuts won't hurt much this year. If it's not reinstated in upcoming budgets, however, the pinch will become more painful.

``We're disappointed, but we recognize the problem the state is facing,'' said Sugar Bowl executive director Paul Hoolahan. ``Fortunately we knew there was no guarantee that the money would be there, so we established our budget on the possibility that would happen.''

The money was to be used to pay competing teams in the Sugar Bowl. It would have been used to meet a variety of operating costs as well as payout to the teams in the Independence Bowl.

``Obviously we would have loved to have had it,'' said Independence Bowl assistant executive director Tom Starr. ``But we'll take a two-pronged road to making up for the loss. We'll tighten where we can, and we'll look again to private sources to try to raise additional revenue.''

Each team that plays in the Sugar Bowl receives about $13 million. Much of the money comes from television.

``It's a lot of money to lose,'' Hoolahan said. ``If it had happened three of four years ago when we were fairly desperate, we would have really been in bad shape.''

The new contract with the Bowl Championship Series that gives the Sugar Bowl the NCAA championship game every four years has helped the Sugar Bowl rebound financially. The BCS, which includes the Sugar Bowl, the Rose Bowl, the Orange Bowl and the Fiesta Bowl, rotates the national title game among the four.

``We have planned financially to at least be able to go through the next two years, which is the end of our first BCS contractual agreement,'' Hoolahan said.

Both bowls are hopeful the money will be restored next year.

``At first blush people might question why the state should support the bowls,'' Starr said. ``But it pays off. Both bowls have substantial economic impact and bring the state national publicity.''

The Independence Bowl had a $31 million impact in the Shreveport area last year, Starr said.

A study done for the Sugar Bowl showed that it had a $240 million impact on the New Orleans area last year. But even without the national title game, the bowl has an average impact of between $175 million and $200 million, Hoolahan said.

``Hopefully our lawmakers are fully aware of the importance of the bowls to the state economy,'' Hoolahan said.