BATON ROUGE (AP) — When the players start hitting and the crowds start cheering at the BCS National Championship Game, you can bet both LSU and Alabama fans will expect to hear their bands strike up the school song.
There's no doubt, the game would lack something without LSU's Golden Band from Tigerland and Alabama's Million Dollar Band being part of the show.
But at the Advocate points out, a million dollars is probably pretty close to what it will cost to get both schools' bands to the Jan. 9 showdown, housed and fed, including tickets to the game.
As part of its recent major remodeling, seats in the lower bowl of the Superdome have been brought in closer to the field.
That's good news for fans as there are more prime seats to be had. But it also means there is less room on the sidelines than before.
The last time LSU played in the BCS championship game in Jan. 2008 against Ohio State, both schools' bands sat in temporary sections on the floor of the Superdome at no cost.
This time, the LSU and Alabama bands will take up a large chunk of seats for which each school must pay.
"We were fortunate that we could provide space for the bands in the past, but the seats in the lower bowl are all much better now for the fans and the band," said John Sudsbury, director of media relations and communications for the Sugar Bowl and this year's BCS championship game.
"It will be a better experience for the bands."
Albeit a pricey one.
LSU senior associate athletic director Herb Vincent said the school needs 529 tickets for its band, cheerleaders and support staff. At $350 each - the highest face-value cost for BCS tickets because of their location - that's $185,150 the school must pay.
The allotment for Alabama's band is slightly more. Deborah Lane, assistant vice president for university relations, said the Alabama band needs 539 seats for a total cost of $188,650.
Overall, Vincent said, the total bill for the LSU band's appearance at the BCS game will run to $445,150, including transportation, three night's lodging, meals, police escorts and other miscellaneous costs.
Alabama did not provide the total amount for what it will cost to get its band to and from the game, though it's easy to figure that its costs will be similar. That means it would be about $1 million combined for both bands to appear at the game.
LSU Athletic Director Joe Alleva said his school's share of that is a cost is something it simply must absorb.
"We have a great band and they add so much to the atmosphere," Alleva said. "We want the band there, but they take up 500 tickets. We have to buy those tickets, and tickets for this game are unbelievably expensive."
Alleva said LSU has budgeted a little over $2 million to cover all of its expenses associated with the championship game.
The bulk of the $18 million payout LSU gets for being in the BCS game goes into a pot of bowl revenue from all Southeastern Conference teams to eventually be distributed among its members.
"If we spend more, it's our fault," Alleva said. "If we spend less, we make money.
"But in a lot of bowl games, it's a losing deal."
It will be a similar outlay for the two schools involved in the Jan. 3 Sugar Bowl. According to spokesmen at both schools, the Virginia Tech band will use 461 tickets, while Michigan's will use 447.
Sudsbury said each school got an allotment of 17,000 tickets, which he said is 1,000 more than LSU and Ohio State got for the BCS championship game four years ago.
However, there is no escaping the fact that the bands will take up over 1,000 prime seats that could otherwise go to fans of both teams.
If there is one advantage to having the bands in the stands it is that they will be more easily heard, according to LSU band director Roy King.
"We love being up in the stands," King said. "If we get elevated off the floor of the dome, people will certainly be able to hear us better."
King said LSU will bring 325 marching band members plus support staff and Golden Girls. The 529 seats are needed in large part because some band pieces require more seats.
"A tuba player requires three or four seats," King explained.
It's a big sound that will require a big investment on the part of both school.