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Public-records request: Is UVA Baseball a revenue sport? Not even close

Chris Graham
government money
(© jackson – stock.adobe.com)

I had the bright idea, in the midst of UVA Baseball’s run to another College World Series appearance, to inquire with the proper authorities about the fiscal side of baseball on Grounds.

Four of the five UVA games in the Regional and Super Regional rounds at Disharoon Park were sellouts, with the fifth, the Friday at 12 ET Regional opener with Penn, drawing just under capacity, with 5,802 fans in the 5,919-seat stadium.

My thinking, seeing thousands of fans turning the turnstiles for those two weekends, and really, all season long – there were 2,891 on hand for the Feb. 21 season opener with ODU, on a Tuesday afternoon with a high temperature of 52 degrees, and 10 mph winds – was, if UVA doesn’t make money on baseball, it has to at least break even, or come close.

So, I did what I do, and filed a Freedom of Information Act request with UVA, seeking overall revenues and expenses for the most recent five baseball seasons for which complete accounting would be available, which turned out to be 2019-2023.

The results

FY19 FY20* FY21** FY22 FY23
Overall Revenues $1,858,941 $1,513,209 $1,058,606 $1,647,502 $1,722,285
Overall Expenses $3,646,331 $3,831,678 $4,050,589 $4,453,883 $4,851,375
Head Coach Salary $573,541 $597,285 $602,546 $682,723 $717,111
Assistant Coaches Salaries $418,943 $445,249 $442,772 $479,358 $500,910
Ticket Revenue $433,789 $249,272 $18,890 $407,298 $444,397
*COVID cut short 2020 Spring season
**Impacted ticket sales in Spring 2021 season due to limited attendance policies

Analysis

Not even close to what I was expecting, obviously.

Even factoring out the 2020 COVID lost season, and the 2021 season, in which there was limited attendance due to continued COVID restrictions, I mean, yikes.

The 2023 season was one like we just saw this year, with a team that ended up earning a College World Series berth, host Regional and Super Regional rounds – you know, money should be flowing with all that going on.

UVA Baseball, in 2023, showed a $3.1 million loss, with ticket sales at a surprisingly paltry $444,397.

For a frame of reference, UVA Football, in the 2022-2023 fiscal year, had a $20.0 million operating surplus, according to data from Sportico, with $7.7 million in ticket sales, and that, you have to remember, was with the final two home football games canceled in the wake of the Nov. 13, 2022, mass shooting that took the lives of three members of the football team.

The UVA Basketball program, in 2022-2023, had a $4.5 million operating surplus, with $5.4 million in ticket sales reported in the fiscal year.

The women’s basketball program showed a $3.7 million loss in the 2022-2023 fiscal year, with $214,733 in ticket sales in the fiscal year.

UVA Baseball is, then, basically, women’s basketball, from a revenue perspective.

I would not have guessed that.

 

 

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham, the king of "fringe media," is the founder and editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1994 alum of the University of Virginia, Chris is the author and co-author of seven books, including Poverty of Imagination, a memoir published in 2019, and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For his commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to his YouTube page, or subscribe to his Street Knowledge podcast. Email Chris at [email protected].