Early football games hurting athletic dept. budgets

Kalamazoo and Battle Creek

PORTAGE, Mich. (WOOD) — High school athletic department budgets have taken a hit this year after officials scheduled football games to start earlier to reduce the threat posed by Eastern Equine Encephalitis.

Football revenue is crucial for funding athletics at most West Michigan schools.

Portage Central has seen a drop in ticket sales this year, according to Athletic Director Joe Wallace.

The early game times have made it more difficult for people to get to the games because many parents are still at work.

Rainy games with lightning delays have also put stress on ticket sales.

“We basically had a spring field too this fall with the just constant craziness with the weather,” Wallace said.

Portage Central says the school can absorb the losses this year. Officials are hopeful next year’s revenue will recover.

“Our gate revenue kind of drives our budget. It does have an impact if we have a decrease there — that’s the whole budget for athletics and our concessions support all of our individual programs as well,” Wallace said.

Even with fewer tickets being sold, the athletic director says concession stand sales have not taken as big of a hit.

“It’s kind of right during prime dinner time that we’re having games now 5 p.m., 5:30 p.m., so we have actually not seen as big of an impact at the concession stand,” Wallace said.

Athletic directors are hoping they will not have to deal with a fall season like this next year.

“I’ve been doing this for about 10 years,” Wallace said. “I could do it for another 10 to 20 and not have this type of a fall again.”

Portage Central is waiting on the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to give the school the OK before moving game times back to 7 p.m.

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