Boise State football and men’s basketball season-ticket holders could lose a tax benefit that offsets some of the cost of their purchase — a change that would put even more stress on the football program’s declining ticket revenue and season-ticket sales.
The GOP tax plan unveiled this week would eliminate the tax deduction on the contributions fans make to the Bronco Athletic Association for the right to purchase prime seats at football and men’s basketball games. Eighty percent of that contribution is tax-deductible currently, and it’s a benefit promoted by athletic departments across the country.
“It’s going to affect us,” Boise State Athletic Director Curt Apsey told KTIK on Thursday. “I think it’s going to be a challenge for a lot of universities across the country, including us. I hope it doesn’t go through because we’re certainly going to have to start thinking about going about this in a different way if that is something that is passed.”
Some people give simply to support the program, Apsey said, but he expects there are some fans drawn by the tax benefits. The school uses the tax benefit as part of its pitch to potential ticket purchasers, he said.
The tax benefits have been a staple of the per-seat contribution system. The BAA generated a record $5.1 million last school year.
“We’ve never sold it without that,” Apsey said, “so I really don’t know what the reaction would be.”
Idaho Athletic Director Rob Spear said the tax incentive plays a role in some donors’ decision-making.
“When you get in front of that prospective donor and you lay out the tax deduction, sometimes it seals the deal,” said Spear, who estimated that about 50 percent of Idaho’s donations came from what he called “seat backs” — donations that allowed for the right to buy tickets. “Schools that have lived by increasing seat-back prices will see significant changes ahead.”
At Boise State, season-ticket holders pay from $75 to $950 per seat to the BAA to purchase tickets in the core of Albertsons Stadium. Tickets in the end zones and south curves don’t require donations. The BAA donations are in addition to the cost of tickets.
For men’s basketball, donations for premium seating range from $25 to $850 per seat.
Fans in the 28 percent tax bracket (household income of $130,151 to $210,800) get a $112 tax break from a $500 seat donation. Losing that benefit could affect their willingness to buy tickets, or push them into a cheaper category.
Since peaking in 2012, Boise State’s football ticket revenue has dropped more than 10 percent and season-ticket sales have plummeted by 26.8 percent to 2004 levels.
Losing the tax break would be yet another force pushing against football ticket sales.
“A lot of the factors we don’t have a lot of control over,” Apsey told the Statesman. “... It’s not just something we’re dealing with.”
And the winner is ...
Is this the week that Boise State finally puts together a complete performance at home, with 1-7 Nevada visiting? I want to say yes — the Broncos are coming off an impressive 4-0 October capped by their first explosive offensive showing at Utah State. But it’s been so long since they dominated at home that it’s become the expectation that they’ll disappoint.
Consider this: Boise State is 1-12 against the spread in its past 13 home games, according to oddsshark.com. The exception was an 11-point win as a 10.5-point favorite in the season opener against Troy. The Broncos have scored 40 points in that span just twice, against San Jose State and UNLV last year. They haven’t won by 21 points or more since a 55-0 destruction of Hawaii on Oct. 3, 2015.
The line this week: a whopping 21 points.
The Broncos are better than the Wolf Pack, who own one of the nation’s worst defenses. But the Pack can score. They’ve lost their past two games by a total of five points against Air Force and Colorado State, scoring 42 points in each game. Boise State’s offense should be effective. Its defense should be eager for the challenge. The Broncos should finally roll at home.
Boise State 48, Nevada 21
College football spotlight
National game of the week 1 — No. 8 Oklahoma at No. 11 Oklahoma State (-2.5), 2 p.m., FS1: Two teams that haven’t been as good as advertised get another shot to play into the national title race. Oklahoma 34, Oklahoma State 27
National game of the week 2 — No. 13 Virginia Tech (-1) at No. 9 Miami, 6 p.m., ABC: The Hokies and Hurricanes are back — and the winner stays in the title race. Virginia Tech 27, Miami 22
Pac-12 game of the week — No. 23 Arizona at No. 17 USC (-7), 8:45 p.m., ESPN: Arizona’s Khalil Tate, not USC’s Sam Darnold, is the talk of the Pac-12. Arizona 44, USC 34
Mountain West game of the week — Colorado State (-4) at Wyoming, 5 p.m., CBS Sports Network: These are the two one-loss teams behind Boise State in the Mountain Division. Colorado State 24, Wyoming 23
On TV: Broncos at Eagles (11 a.m. Sunday, CBS), Redskins at Seahawks (2 p.m., Fox), Chiefs at Cowboys (2:25 p.m., CBS), Raiders at Dolphins (6:20 p.m., NBC), Lions at Packers (6:15 p.m. Monday, ESPN).
Broncos in the NFL: Former Boise State tailback Jay Ajayi has been followed by reports of knee trouble and attitude problems during his pro career. He gets a chance to erase both of those concerns, and possibly play in the Super Bowl, as a new member of the Philadelphia Eagles. I expect Ajayi, who overcame a terrible knee injury and a suspension early in his college career to become one of Boise State’s most productive players ever, to thrive in Philadelphia. It’s still undecided whether he’ll play Sunday, though.
Chadd Cripe is the Idaho Statesman sports editor. Contact him at ccripe@ idahostatesman.com, 208-377-6398 or @chaddcripe on Twitter.
Brian Murphy of McClatchy contributed reporting to the section on taxes.