Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Cash-strapped Greenville School District loses $6k on Valley games

GREENVILLE – An article on the front page of today’s Delta Democrat Times – written by our education beat reporter Everett Chinn – brought to light what most had feared: the three Mississippi Valley State games hosted at Greenville-Weston High School this year were a financial failure for the school district.

In all, the three games – including the Oct. 2 homecoming game against Prairie View – put the district in the hole, nearly $6,000.

Back in September, Greenville Superintendent Dr. Harvey Franklin waived the rental fee of up to $5,000 – and said the district would recoup their investment by selling concessions.

“This is what was best in the long run, and by selling the concessions, it offered us the better value,” Franklin said back in September. “I feel it’s a win-win situation for the organization, city and the county.”

However, the sparse crowd at the Valley games brought their own food, taking a bite out of the district’s plans. The money the school district had planned to gain was going to be used to fund Greenville-Weston’s six non-revenue producing sports, which were suspended this summer. The six sports have since been re-instated.

The Washington County Convention Center was also used by MVSU at no cost. Plus, the school district footed the bill for a shuttle service which bused fans from the convention center to the stadium.

MVSU retained the revenue from each game’s ticket sales.

Attendance numbers

Of the three games at Greenville-Weston, the Oct. 23 game against Grambling saw the highest announced attendance at 3,197. The Oct. 2 game against Prairie View produced an announced crowd of 2,210 and season finale vs. Alabama A&M on Nov.13 had 2,398. (For the record, announced attendance is usually off from the number actually in attendance.)

But why so few people?

Here’s several reasons why attendance may have been so low:

  • Leflore County MVSU alumni boycotted the games because they felt it made more sense for the games to be held in Greenwood, which is less than 10 miles away, instead of 45 miles away in Greenville.
  • There was some unwanted company at the Alabama A&M game – rain. I personally counted no more than 30 people on the visitor’s side – and a very sparse home crowd.
  • Have you heard? Valley didn’t win a game this year.

Although the cash-strapped school district lost nearly $6,000, Franklin stands behind his decision.

“It was a gamble, but it was well worth it,” he said. “We showed we were more than capable of hosting and preparing for a large crowd.”

He did say, however, he would do it differently if there is a next time. “If we ever go through this in the future, we’ll use different strategies,” said Franklin. “One of the things we’ll look at is utilizing the stadium for profit by us renting the football field. My recommendation would be just rent the facility.”

Compare the numbers

Let’s take a peek at the two other state SWAC schools, in regards to attendance. JSU, who hosted Southern Oct. 16 in front of an announced 42,053, averaged 25,583 fans per home game this season.

Alcorn State, meanwhile, averaged a home crowd of 7,132 – with he largest crowd – 18,075 people – showing up to the Southern game. (Reminder: The announced attendance is usually off the mark. In reality, the attendance is usually lower.)

Look for more of the details on the blog and in Thursday's Delta Democrat Times. 

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