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Arizona will still be ‘significantly short’ on revenue despite having a fall football season

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 29 Arizona Bowl - Utah St v New Mexico St Photo by Jacob Snow/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Having a fall football season will help the Arizona Wildcats put a dent in the $60-65 million loss they were projecting without one, but athletic director Dave Heeke said the school still expects to be “significantly short” on revenue, though he wasn’t willing to provide a ballpark figure.

“That’s going to be a challenge for us going forward as an organization on how we manage that significant revenue shortfall during the next year,” Heeke said. “And this will be a multi-year dilemma for all of our institutions as we roll out of this.”

Heeke said he is grateful the Pac-12 will give his student-athletes a chance to compete this fall, but a shortened schedule and no fans at games means the season won’t be as lucrative as usual. He said the expectation was fans would be allowed for a spring season, something that factored into Arizona’s previous budget projections.

Season-ticket holders will be offered full refunds or a future credit, though Heeke said the “majority” of them have kept their money with the athletic department.

“Football is a significant revenue producer for us and I’ve been very pleased and very appreciative of what many of our fans have decided to do and that’s just support the overall program by continuing to stay on board,” he said.

More good news is Heeke said Arizona’s media rights revenue, a sum of $32 million in 2018-19, will be “if not fully met, very close to that.”

“The networks have been very receptive to our plan and the ability to deliver a number of football games close to the contracted amount,” he said.

Still, Heeke said further reductions are likely coming within the athletic department. He also expects the athletic department to partake in the Pac-12 bridge funding program that can provide each institution up to $83 million in loans.

“We’re reliant upon our own revenues, not those that come from the university so we’re operating independently in that way,” Heeke said. “So we’ll have to really look at that and that’s why this is a really important exercise now going forward.”