Poof! Yulman Stadium not blast that was expected
Since the holiday season is here, let me describe Tulane University’s three-year-old football stadium in a term that locals can understand.
It’s a shoo-shoo.
A shoo-shoo, of course, is a firecracker or a bottle rocket that never goes off. You light the fuse and that rocket is supposed to go high into the air, and, when it explodes, make plenty of racket.
Yulman Stadium’s many supporters (few who actually now go to games) said the return to football on campus would usher in a new era in Green Wave football. The tailgating would be tremendous; the boon to recruiting would be tangible.
Those supporters said the new stadium also would bring high school football and recruits on campus. Not one high school football game has been played at Yulman Stadium.
Those supporters said the Superdome (you know, one of the most famous stadiums in the world) wasn’t good for college football. Tulane needed to come home. Thousands of fans would descend on campus, many walking from their nearby homes. Tulane football was on the launching pad.
The cost? A mere $80 million.
Fast forward three years later, and Tulane has won six and lost 12 at its new on-campus football home. Only three of those victories are against Football Bowl Subdivision teams.
The crowd for the 2016 home finale against Temple was announced at more than 16,000 fans. Please.
The numbers on the field are in the red, and so are the numbers off the field. In 2014, a source said the operating expenses for Yulman Stadium for the first season were approximately $3.6 million. In Years 2 and 3, those expenses have been cut in half.
But that is still a lot of money when you consider the Superdome charged Tulane $12,500 a game. An indoor practice facility or even a new basketball arena would have been dollars far better spent.
This season, new head football coach Willie Fritz and his staff have received a bird’s-eye view of the quality of player it takes to compete in the American Athletic Conference. In the Nov. 20 college football RPI (Ratings Percentage Index), Houston was ranked 10th, Navy was 11th, South Florida was 27th, Temple was 31st, Tulsa was 39th and Memphis was 47th.
In that same college football RPI, the American Athletic Conference has nudged ahead of the Big 12 Conference in power ranking to No. 5. So, it will take a much better brand of football to compete in the American.
Yulman Stadium was supposed to help attract that type of player. It hasn’t, and anyone who thinks otherwise is delusional.
Oh, by the way, in 2013, Tulane won five home games. At a place called the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.