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What Is the Cost of a Bedlam Gameday for Oklahoma State?

Is the amount OSU would lose on a Bedlam gameday negligible?

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Editor’s note: This article has been updated. Initially it said the difference was $366,322.82, which is correct, but for clarity’s sake, the average difference in a Bedlam season amounts to about $2.5 million.

A big question in the fallout of Oklahoma and Texas planning to join the SEC is whether Bedlam should still be played if OSU and OU are in different conferences.

Those in the Oklahoma State fanbase against continuing the game argue it would be nice to see how the Cowboys could perform out from under the Sooners’ shadow. Another argument is it was OU’s decision to leave the conference, and thus, Bedlam.

Those in OSU’s fanbase for playing the game point to the deep ties Bedlam has within the state and the benefits of having an extra nationally relevant game on the schedule.

In truth, it will probably come down to money like everything else in this conference reshuffle is going to. Will it be financially beneficial to continue the series?

Adam Lunt, who is in the camp of discontinuing the series, made a post in the PFB+ forum on Wednesday morning looking at financial statements from OSU. He took into account ticket sales for a given football season as well as programs, concessions and parking money made, comparing years where OSU hosted Bedlam and years where Bedlam was in Norman.

Lunt pointed me in the direction of where to find the financial statements, and I added to the data further.

The statements don’t have a game-by-game breakdown of sales, but rather season totals for each year. OSU has statements from 2014 to 2020 (2013 football season to 2019 football season) available.

That data shows that in a year where OSU hosted Bedlam, the athletic department brought in a revenue of $2,419,972.92 per game. In years where OSU didn’t host Bedlam, the department’s revenue was $2,053,650.95 per game.

This means that in a seven-game home season with Bedlam in Stillwater, OSU would make $16,939,810 on average. In a seven-game home season without Bedlam in Stillwater, OSU would make $14,375,557 on average. A different of $2,564,253, or $366,322.82 a game.

Again, this is only looking at ticket sales and revenue from program sales, concessions and parking.

There are also a ton of outlying factors: how good the team was in a given year, weather, other marquee games on the schedule, etc.

This also isn’t the only money an out-of-conference Bedlam game would generate, as TV would have a lot to do with that. There is also the added notoriety likely playing a national spotlight game could bring OSU.

But in terms of a Bedlam game day in Stillwater, it’s worth about $2,564,253 when looking at that data. Is that negligible? That will be a question for someone to find out.

2013 (Bedlam) 2014 (No Bedlam) 2015 (Bedlam) 2016 (No Bedlam) 2017 (Bedlam) 2018 (No Bedlam) 2019 (Bedlam)
Ticket Sales 18,541,629 16,304,589 17,812,995 14,896,675 11,778,988 10,430,072 10,478,795
Program Sales, Concessions & Parking 296,389 405,914 471,421 472,396 446,611 617,006 672,495
Total 18,838,018 16,710,503 18,284,416 15,369,071 12,225,599 11,047,078 11,151,290
Number of Home Games 6 7 7 7 6 7 6
Per Game Average 3,139,669.667 2,387,214.714 2,612,059.429 2,195,581.571 2,037,599.833 1,578,154 1,858,548.333

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