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Notre Dame Football: The Wisconsin Series: Tickets, TV and Who Gets The Money

We examine the contract between Notre Dame & Wisconsin for the 2020 and 2021 game.

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Outback Bowl - Georgia vs Wisconsin - January 1, 2005

Six days before the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and Wisconsin Badgers announced their intention to play each other in 2020 and 2021, the two schools had signed an agreement that laid out, in broad strokes, the mutually beneficial endeavor.

One Foot Down obtained the eight-page agreement through a Freedom of Information Act request made to the University of Wisconsin.

Here’s what it said:

DATES

As previously announced, Notre Dame will be the home team when the two programs meet Oct. 3, 2020 at Lambeau Field. In addition, Wisconsin will be the home team during the Sept. 25, 2021 clash at Soldier Field in Chicago.

TICKETS

Boston College Eagles fans were understandably upset at their school when it allowed Notre Dame to control all but 5,000 seats during the 2015 Fenway Park game. That won’t be the case when Notre Dame comes to Green Bay to play the home-state Badgers.

“The intention of the parties is that each party will have an equal share of the tickets available for sale to each game and such tickets shall be materially the same in regards to type, quality and price for each party,” the agreement says.

Each university will get 3,000 tickets for their students “at a price that will be the lowest price ticket for that game.” The universities will also get 500 tickets to accommodate their respective bands. (Cheerleaders and mascots don’t need tickets, as long as they don’t exceed a group of 30.)

Both Wisconsin and Notre Dame will receive 400 parking passes for the Lambeau Field game and 200 parking passes for the Soldier Field game, as well as four suites each at each site.

The agreement says Notre Dame and Wisconsin have not yet negotiated how much tickets to the games will cost, but that it will be agreed to no later than Jan. 15, 2020.

TELEVISION & RADIO

Notre Dame holds all telecast and distribution rights for the Lambeau Field game and does not have to share any revenues derived from that telecast with Wisconsin. (That game will air on NBC.) The Big Ten Conference will hold the rights to televise and distribute the Soldier Field game and doesn’t have to share any revenues it derives with Notre Dame.

Each side will be allowed to provide an audio broadcast to its usual networks, stations or outlets. One student radio station from each side is allowed to produce a broadcast as well. No revenue from radio will be shared.

NO GUARANTEES

Notre Dame didn’t have to pay Wisconsin any money to participate in these games and the same is true in reverse. If for some reason the Green Bay Packers or the Chicago Parks District renege on their deals, the teams are committed to playing the game at a mutually agreeable alternate site.

UNIFORMS

“The home team for each game shall have discretion to select the locker room, sideline and jerseys that it will utilize for that game, and the visiting team’s options on such matters will be limited by the home team’s selections,” the agreement says.

OFFICIALS

Big Ten employees will officiate the Soldier Field game and man the replay booth. Notre Dame will designate which conference will provide officials and instant replay crews for the Lambeau Field game.

GAME MANAGEMENT AND REVENUES

Each university is required to pay for its own transportation, lodging, equipment, supplies and meals. However, it is the “general intention” that Notre Dame and Wisconsin “share jointly and equally” in other costs associated with staging the games, including credit card fees, facility fees, sales tax on tickets, stadium rental, city and county taxes and traffic management.

The two universities will also share revenues, including ticket sales, revenue from merchandise sold on-site at each game and game-specific sponsorships. Any revenue not specific to the games -- i.e. season long team sponsorships — and merchandise sold off-site do not have to be divvied up.

“Wisconsin acknowledges that Notre Dame is transitioning its management of athletics sponsorships,” the agreement notes. “Notre Dame shall notify Wisconsin at the completion of this transition, upon which the parties shall negotiate how sponsorships and associated revenues will be secured, managed and allocated between the parties in relation to the games.”

WHAT’S NOT IN THE AGREEMENT

Our FOIA request asked for any agreements between Notre Dame and Wisconsin, any between Wisconsin and Under Armour, any between Wisconsin and the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Parks District and/or City of Chicago and any between Wisconsin and the Big Ten Network regarding these games specifically.

Michael Brice, an attorney connected to the Wisconsin Athletics Department, told us that the eight-page agreement he sent was “the only agreement executed in relation to these football games at the present time.”

The agreement notes that there will be forthcoming contracts between the university (jointly) and each stadium host, which will hammer out everything from how much tickets will cost to how many ushers will be used.

Last year, the Packers paid $3 million to Wisconsin and $2.5 million to LSU to play at Lambeau Field. The Packers paid all hosting costs, but got to keep ticket, parking and concessions revenue. They also secured a game sponsor and were able to sell ads in programs and other places around the stadium, according to the Journal-Sentinel.

Our thanks to Lisa Hull, John Lucas and Michael Brice at the University of Wisconsin for their prompt response to and constant communication regarding our FOIA request.