Basketball teams to share wealth from Big 4 Classic

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IOWA CITY — Four teams, four fan bases, four equal shares.

The inaugural Big 4 Classic scheduled Saturday in Des Moines boasts the state’s four Division I men’s basketball programs at Des Moines’ Wells Fargo Arena. Iowa (8-2) will face Northern Iowa (6-3) at 1:30 p.m., while longtime rivals Iowa State (7-3) and Drake (4-4) play afterward.

The schools have agreed to share the costs and the profits of the doubleheader. They completed a memo of understanding in April and finalized a contract in late summer.

“We’re going to take all the money that’s generated through ticket sales, pay the rental fee and then we will split that remaining balance in four equal parts,” said Rick Klatt, Iowa’s associate athletics director for external affairs.

The schools’ licensing agreement with Global Spectrum, which was obtained by The Gazette via state open-records law, lasts for four years and the schools own the rights to sell sponsorship for the event. Global Spectrum will retain all concessions and parking proceeds. The schools will earn all revenue generated from souvenirs and program sales.

The schools will pay Wells Fargo Arena’s management company a combined $40,000 rental fee plus $2 per ticket sold. As of Thursday, about 2,600 upper-deck tickets remained in the 14,606-seat arena. All of the lower-bowl tickets cost $70, while the upper-deck prices ranged from $50 to $25 for both games.

The athletics departments’ licensing partners — Drake with IMG; Iowa, Iowa State and UNI with Learfield — secured a presenting sponsor in Hy-Vee and another sponsorship with the Des Moines Convention and Visitors Bureau. Those proceeds also will be split equally.

The schools agreed to several particulars in the event. According to the memo of understanding, game officials will have relationships with the Big Ten, Big 12 and Missouri Valley conferences and “be in good standing with all four schools.” The host school, which is Iowa this year, will assign the game officials. The schools will not invite recruits as guests.

As the host teams, Iowa and Iowa State coordinated the television plans. Iowa’s television package goes through its league office, and the Big Ten Network chose to televise its game with UNI. Mediacom will air the Iowa State-Drake game. The original goal was to have ESPN or its family of networks televise the games.

In the lower bowl, the four fan groups are divided equally throughout the arena.

“They should be two pretty good basketball games,” Klatt said. “Four good teams in the building. It’s going to be interesting to see how fans of one team cheer or not cheer for another.”

Next year Iowa will play Drake, and Iowa State will face Northern Iowa. All four teams previously met at home locations for more than 20 years before Iowa and Iowa State wanted to revamp the in-state series. Iowa and Iowa State will continue to play once each season on campus. Northern Iowa and Drake will play twice each year as part of their membership in the Missouri Valley Conference.

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