The canceled LSU-McNeese State football game Saturday night goes into the record books as a “no contest,” like it never happened.
In the LSU athletic department’s financial books, however, the game most definitely will leave a mark.
Tuesday, LSU announced a plan to refund the face value of game tickets purchased through the LSU Athletic Ticket Office.
LSU Athletic Director Joe Alleva said refunding tickets and game expenses will cost the athletic department at least $1.2 million and as much as $3.2 million. LSU’s costs include paying McNeese State its $500,000 guarantee for the game, as well as costs for personnel such as police, ushers and ticket takers.
Alleva said the school has an insurance policy for such issues, but he isn’t sure how much will be covered because a brief part of the game actually was played.
“In the end, we believe that issuing the refund is quite simply the right thing to do in this case,” Alleva said. “We have a plan in place that fairly reimburses fans who purchased tickets through our ticket office.”
The scoreless game was halted with 10:08 to play in the first quarter because of lightning in the vicinity of Tiger Stadium. After more lightning strikes and rain during a three-hour, 46-minute delay, Alleva announced at 10:36 p.m. the game was canceled and would not be rescheduled.
Eight plays from scrimmage, plus a kickoff and two punts, were played. No statistics from the game will count.
Neither team has a common open date, and LSU officials have contended it was logistically unfeasible to have moved the game to Sunday or even Monday.
“One of my staff members made the analogy (Tuesday) that if you go to the movies and after 10 minutes the power went out, you’d probably get your money back or a token to come to another movie,” Alleva said. “Well, I don’t have a token to give. I’ve got a great ticket manager, Brian Broussard, and he went through this with (Hurricane) Katrina. His recommendation was to credit everyone.”
The refund applies to:
All LSU football season ticket holders, including student season ticket holders
All ticket holders who purchased a single-game ticket, a group ticket or a ticket as part of a package through the LSU ticket office, LSUtix.net or the LSU Ticket Marketplace site.
Fans who bought tickets using a credit card will have the refund issued to the credit card account by Sept. 30, according to a university news release.
Fans who bought tickets by other payment will receive a refund check in the mail by Oct. 15 with the exception of individual-game cash purchasers, who’ll have until 5 p.m. on Sept. 30 to contact the ticket office at (225) 578-2184 about refund information.
Ticket prices were $25 to $35 for season ticket holders depending on seat location and $4 to $11 for LSU students. Prices varied for tickets purchased at the single-game, group and package rates.
There are some exceptions to LSU’s refund plan:
Fans who bought tickets through the McNeese State athletic department will have to contact McNeese State directly for details.
Fans who bought tickets through nonauthorized third parties will need to contact those sources for questions about refunds.
Tradition Fund payments and parking fees, either for single-game parking or season parking passes, will not be refunded or prorated.
Alleva said all of LSU’s 102,321 tickets were distributed, though whether LSU would issue a refund for tickets not scanned for use at Tiger Stadium was not immediately known.
“It’s obviously an unfortunate situation since we had over 100,000 fans in Tiger Stadium for the start of game, and the atmosphere throughout the campus was electric,” Alleva said. “Our fans again demonstrated why they are the best in the nation, and we appreciate their patience as we administer this process.”
This was the first LSU football game to be canceled since the entire 1918 season was called off because of World War I. It’s the fifth time since 2003 that an LSU season opener has been impacted by weather.
Lightning delayed the start of LSU’s 2003 opener with University of Louisiana at Monroe and 2004 opener with Oregon State, but by less than an hour each time.
In 2005, LSU moved its opener with Arizona State to the Sun Devils’ home stadium after Hurricane Katrina. In 2008, LSU moved kickoff for its opener with Appalachian State to 10 a.m. on the scheduled date because of the impending threat from Hurricane Gustav.
No. 14-ranked LSU plays at 8:15 p.m. Saturday at No. 25 Mississippi State. The weather forecast Tuesday was for a 20 percent chance of rain Saturday night.