SBD/Issue 76/Collegiate Sports

Bobby Bowden's Farewell Delivers Record Crowd To Gator Bowl

FSU's Win Over West Virginia Draws Gator
Bowl-Record Crowd For Bowden's Farewell
Florida State's 33-21 win over West Virginia in the Konica Minolta Gator Bowl drew a game-record crowd of 84,129 at Jacksonville Municipal Stadium for FSU coach Bobby Bowden's final game, according to Corey Clark of the TALLAHASSEE DEMOCRAT. The crowd, which included more than 300 former FSU players, prior to the game gave Bowden a "thunderous roar when he picked up the flaming spear and slammed it into midfield" (TALLAHASSEE DEMOCRAT, 1/2). FOXSPORTS.com's Paul Bowker reported demand for tickets and media credentials was "higher than the one Super Bowl" played in Jacksonville, the Patriots-Eagles finale in '05. The Jaguars "cover up thousands of seats in the 73,000-seat facility," but Gator Bowl officials had "temporary bleachers seating an additional 6,000 ... set up high behind one end zone, and even those tickets sold out quickly." Gator Bowl Commissioner Glen Guzzo said, "I don't know if we've ever had tickets sell this fast. This game is beyond expectations" (FOXSPORTS.com, 1/2).

FRESH BALE OF COTTON: The Ole Miss-Oklahoma State AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic drew 77,928 fans to Cowboys Stadium in the first edition of the game not played at its namesake stadium (Mult., 1/3). Cowboys Stadium has a capacity of more than 100,000, but Cotton Bowl VP/Communications Charlie Fiss said that limiting the seating for the debut bowl game in the facility "would 'enhance the fan experience' by giving more elbowroom and easier access to concessions" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 1/3). Meanwhile, in Jackson, David Brandt wrote Cowboys Stadium is "every bit as impressive as it looks on television." Fans for both teams for most of the game "walked around the stadium with goofy grins on their faces, marvelling at what's got to be one of the best venues to watch a game in the world" (Jackson CLARION-LEDGER, 1/3).

HELLO, HOUSTON: In Houston, Jerome Solomon reported the Texas Bowl sold a record 69,411 tickets at Reliant Stadium for Navy's 35-13 win over Missouri, though "nowhere near that many people showed up." While there is "no doubt there are too many bowl games," the Texas Bowl is "proving to be one of the legitimate ones" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 1/1). Meanwhile, ESPN Regional Television announced it will partner with the game beginning next season. In Houston, David Barron reported the Texans' Lone Star Sports & Entertainment (LSSE) "will continue to administer the annual game." Texas Bowl Manager Heather Houston said that under the deal ESPN will broadcast the game for four years, while LSSE "will continue to manage the event with its current board of directors and charitable beneficiaries." The bowl marks the seventh acquired by ESPN Regional (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 12/31).

ALABAMA SLAMMERS: In Birmingham, Jon Solomon reported a record crowd of 45,254 attended the fourth Papajohns.com Bowl at Legion Field for Connecticut's 20-7 win over South Carolina. However, it "wasn't all great news for the day," as traffic "was a nightmare." Also, while Papa John's "added two mobile kitchens this season to cook pizza -- up from one last year -- it still wasn't enough to solve the annual logistical nightmares." Fans at one trailer "waited 45 minutes for pizza in a line that stretched 110 people deep," and once fans "got to order, they were told only cheese was available and it would be another 45 minutes for pepperoni" (AL.com, 1/2).

OTHER BOWL ATTENDANCE NOTES: In El Paso, Aaron Bracamontes reported the Oklahoma-Stanford Brut Sun Bowl "made history with a record crowd of 53,713 fans." The attendance "broke the previous Sun Bowl game record of 52,288" for the '04 Arizona State-Purdue matchup (EL PASO TIMES, 1/1)....Arkansas' 20-17 overtime win over East Carolina in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl drew 62,742 fans, the "second-largest crowd in the game's 51 years," behind only the '07 Mississippi State-Central Florida game. Arkansas "sold out its 25,500 allotment and seemed to have double that amount in the stands" (Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL, 1/3)....The Texas Tech-Michigan State Valero Alamo Bowl drew an announced attendance of 64,757, the sixth most in the 17-year history of the game (SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS, 1/3)....The Rogers Centre drew just 22,185 fans for the South Florida-Northern Illinois International Bowl at Rogers Centre, the "lowest attendance in the game's four-year existence" (CP, 1/2).

TIME TO EAT MOR CHIKIN: Chick-fil-A Bowl President & CEO Gary Stokan wrote a letter to U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT to refute the game's inclusion on a list of the "worst college bowl sponsors." Stokan wrote, "The moniker of 'worst' could not be further from the truth when it comes to the Chick-fil-A Bowl." Stokan: "Like other bowls, the Chick-fil-A Bowl is set up to do three things -- drive tourism for the local community, raise money for charity, and provide unique experiences for student-athletes. Judging by these measures, the Chick-fil-A Bowl is among the most successful bowl games in the country." He noted the game has provided $5.8M "in charitable and sponsorship contributions in the last eight years alone" (USNEWS.com, 12/30). 

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