SBD/April 27, 2011/Facilities

East-West Shrine Game Moving To Tropicana Field Next Year

International Shriners officials will announce this morning that the East-West Shrine Game has moved to Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla., across the bay from the group’s national HQs in Tampa. The Shriners signed a two-year deal with a two-year option with Sunburst Entertainment Group, a subsidiary of the Rays, the stadium’s primary tenant. The 87th edition of the annual game is set for Jan. 21 and will be broadcast on NFL Network. The longest-running college all-star football game moves from the Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium in Orlando, where it had been held the past two years. Proceeds from the game benefit Shriners Hospitals for Children. The Shriners operate a hospital for kids in Tampa, and there are 2,600 jobs in the region tied to its HQs and the healthcare facility. “It makes sense to have the game in an area where you are part of the community,” said Shrine Game Exec Dir Harold Richardson. “The last few years, it hasn’t done as well as it has in the past and we’re trying to build it back up. We want to make this (market) our home. A lot of things have changed over the years both in the game of football and the economy. With the addition of all the bowl games, all-star games don’t have the luster they once did.” St. Petersburg is the fifth city to play host to the game, Richardson said. For the first 81 years, the East-West Shrine Game was played in the Bay Area at stadiums in S.F. and Palo Alto. The event then moved to San Antonio, followed by Houston and Orlando. Game revenue has helped provide free treatment for 960,000 kids at the 22 Shriners Hospitals for Children, including five burn centers. Most tickets for the '12 game will cost $15, with a small portion of premium seats priced at $50, Richardson said. This will be the third football game booked at Tropicana Field. The two others are the Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl and the Under Armour All America Football game. Sunburst is also involved in marketing the college bowl game and high school all-star game.
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