Tuesday, November 28, 2000

Highlands netted $152,623 from Elder game

By Terry Flynn
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        FORT THOMAS — Highlands High School showed a net profit of $152,623 from its game Sept. 16 against Elder High School, even though several thousand fans got into Paul Brown Stadium free.

        Highlands Principal George Frakes said Mondaythat ticket sales for the game, won by Elder, 21-14, amounted to $228,992. Total expenses were $76,369, including just under $70,000 paid to the Bengals for use of the stadium.

        “Our expenses turned out to be lower than we had anticipated,” Mr. Frakes said. “Obviously, we're very happy with the outcome. The money will go into the school's general

        athletic fund to help the entire athletic program in a variety of areas.”

        The Highlands football team, the defending state Class AAA champion, plays Owensboro in Louisville on Saturday for the 2000 AAA crown. The Bluebirds are going for their 15th state title, a Kentucky prep record, and third in a row.

        Attendance for the Elder game, played just weeks after Paul Brown Stadium opened, was about 25,000, according to Mr. Frakes, but about 19,000 tickets were sold.

        The rest of the crowd was admitted free because of safety concerns after several thousand people lined up to buy tickets but couldn't be accommodated because of a shortage of ticket windows in use.

        “I wonder how many actually got in free,” he said. “Even if it was only about 4,000, at $14 a ticket (for adults), that's a lot of money.”

        At the time, Highlands was ranked in the top 10 nationally and Elder was the No.2 ranked school in Cincinnati.

        “I don't know that this will ever happen again for any school in our area,” Mr. Frakes said. “Everything came together. Both teams were ranked and both have strong football traditions. The game was in a new stadium that a lot of people hadn't seen, and it was a beautiful night.”

        The Bluebirds had played the Panthers at Elder stadium in 1999 before 12,000 people.

        “We realized that we could attract many more people than the 4,500 our stadium in Fort Thomas could hold,” Mr. Frakes said.

        Although it was Highlands' home game and the school could keep all of the receipts because it paid all of the expenses, Highlands gave Elder $4,000.

        Mr. Frakes said the windfall couldn't have come at a better time, because Highlands loses two longtime rival schools from its regular schedule next season.

        “There is a downside because we lose Conner and Dixie Heights, a couple of good gate schools that won't be in our district after this year,” he said.

        Highlands' home game tickets at its own 4,500-seat stadium sell for $3 or $5, making the before-expenses possible gross about $30,000.


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