Michigan athletics projects near-$1M surplus for 2017

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News
There are eight games at Michigan Stadium this season.

Ann Arbor – Michigan’s athletic department projects a surplus of nearly $1 million for fiscal year 2017 and will have operating expenses of $161.0 million this next year.

Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel, who has been on the job three months, presented the 2017 athletic department operating budget Thursday at the University of Michigan Regents meeting.

Manuel did indicate the athletic department will break even in fiscal year 2016.

“The work the staff did last year to solidify the budget really took hold,” Manuel said. “You come in and you see the numbers, and you want to make sure, obviously, for me, I want to come in and have a balanced budget at minimum. At minimum you’d like a little surplus to put to future endeavors.

“For the most part I was pleased with what I walked into in terms of budgetary controls we had in place throughout the department.”

Based on the operating budget presented to the Regents, Michigan’s athletic department, which covers its own expenses and is not subsidized by the university, projects an operating surplus of $0.8 million based on an operating revenue of $161.8 million.

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Football season ticket prices remain unchanged from fiscal year 2016 to 2017 – Michigan plays eight homes games this fall versus seven last year. Manuel pointed out that Michigan’s neutral-site game at AT&T Stadium (formerly Cowboys Stadium) in Arlington, Texas, against Florida in 2017 has a $6 million guarantee to Michigan, roughly what the department makes each home game at Michigan Stadium.

Corporate sponsorship revenues are projected to increase to $17.7 million in 2017 from $16.2 million in 2016 mainly because of, the report indicates, the athletic department’s new apparel deal with Nike that begins Aug. 1, 2016.

The budget projects facility revenues to increase to $6 million from $4.6 million last year, in large part because of special-event rentals at Michigan Stadium, like the upcoming soccer game in July.

Manuel says the stadium could be used for more non-football events, but that’s not a priority. He said he’s not opposed to having concerts at the stadium.

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“It’s not my mindset to say we’re going to use Michigan Stadium to make money,” Manuel said. “We want to look at opportunities where they exist, but I don’t step in with a philosophy of, I want to use Michigan Stadium to drive more revenue. Where revenue opportunities come and where we can be a good partner and do things in the community and different things we do, we’ll look at them. But my intent is not to utilize our facilities just to drive additional revenue. Where we can, we will. But we’ll look at it on a case-by-case basis.”

The department’s total operating expenses are projected to increase approximately 4 percent between fiscal year 2016 and 2017. Included in the operating expenses is a $5 million transfer to a deferred maintenance fund.

Manuel said there could be future facility projects including replacing the roof at Oosterbaan Fieldhouse and replacing the artificial turf there, and additional renovations to Schembechler Hall.