This week’s Bayou Classic will mark the 42nd edition of the event, which will feature the football game between Grambling State University and Southern University.

Activities that include a parade, a career and college fair, the battle of the bands and other official events, bring in an estimated $50 million to the City of New Orleans according to sources.

For all that’s been reported on the Bayou Classic, especially as it relates to the financial figures that impact the New Orleans economy, little has been reported on the business of running the 40-plus year long event, until now.

HBCU Sports has obtained a copy of one of the Bayou Classic contracts, labeled as a “corporate sponsorship, event planning and marketing services agreement.” The seven-page, three-year agreement set to run through Dec. 31 (with an option to extend up to two additional years), became effective Jan. 1, 2013 and is entered into by the Grambling University Foundation, the Southern University System Foundation and the New Orleans Convention Company, Inc. (NOCCI)

Below are some key points from the agreement.

The partnership

Grambling and Southern own the rights to the Bayou Classic, but NOCCI – according to the contract – is the “exclusive” agency of record responsible for negotiating agreements “for both new and existing sponsors/or agents representing sponsors.”


The agreement lists numerous “services” NOCCI is to perform for Grambling and Southern. Some of those services include:

  • “Game day operations.”
  • “Ancillary event coordination.”
  • “Create and implement new promotional opportunities for corporate partners.”
  • “Market research development.”
  • “Manage all marketing and advertising efforts including developing print, radio and television ad copy.”
  • “Invoice and collect all revenue related to the sponsorship and promotions”
  • “Work closely with designated officials and provide written weekly reports on sales and operations.”
  • “Manage and execute Title sponsor and NBC-related Game day operations.”
  • “Serve as Superdome liaison
  • “Serve as liaison with City of New Orleans including Office of the Mayor”
  • “Develop (and/or enhance any existing) official Internet Web Site, e-commerce, social and digital media to secure sponsorships.”
  • “Serve as NBC liaison.”

NOCCI, responsible for seeking and negotiating sponsorships, must first receive approval from both foundations before the sponsorships are secured.


NOCCI is to offer two “paid Bayou Classic internships” (one student from each university) “from various disciplines (e.g., marketing, finance, tourism). The agreement states the purpose of the internships is to “inspire the next generation of leadership and development”. NOCCI is responsible for setting applications deadlines, program dates, compensation and housing, “with input from each university.”

Television broadcast commercial time

Both foundations have granted NOCCI “the exclusive right to place and approve all commercial units to be shown during” the NBC broadcasts of the games.

Management fee

The Grambling and Southern foundations are “separately and equally responsible for paying NOCCI an annual fixed management fee of” $175,000. The management fee is deducted from the “total revenue” collected from the event.   In the event the revenue generated isn’t enough to cover NOCCI’s management fee, “the foundations shall be separately and equally liable for such payments.”

Sponsorship revenue allocation

All sponsorship revenue generated from the Bayou Classic will “be allocated among NOCCI and the foundations.”

NOCCI is to receive a 20 percent commission “for all new sponsorships” secured. The remaining 80 percent will be split evenly between both foundations. Additionally, NOCCI will receive 15 percent of the revenue “collected from existing sponsors,” with the balance to be split evenly between Grambling and Southern.

Paid game attendance incentives

The contract stipulates that NOCCI is to receive an “incentive award” if the football game’s “paid” attendance meets certain benchmarks.

“If paid game attendance is 50,000 or over, NOCCI shall receive a $20,000 incentive award; if paid game attendance is 60,000 or over, NOCCI shall receive a $30,000 incentive award; and if paid game attendance is 70,000 or over, NOCCI shall receive a $50,000 incentive award.”

Southern University System Executive Director Al Harrell, who also serves as a Bayou Classic coordinator, refused to comment further on the agreement when we spoke with him over the phone Tuesday.

In 2012, it was reported that Grambling and Southern split $1.32 million in proceeds from the 2011 Bayou Classic. That was the first year NOCCI served as promoter and coordinator for the event.



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