SBD/August 20, 2013/Colleges

Camellia Bowl To Debut In '14 Under Six-Year Deal With ESPN Regional Television

The new Camellia Bowl in Montgomery, Ala., "will be owned by ESPN Regional Television and begin in 2014" at the 25,000-seat Cramton Bowl, according to Jon Solomon of the BIRMINGHAM NEWS. The contract is "a six-year deal for the bowl," which will feature teams from the Sun Belt and MAC. Former Troy Univ. AD Johnny Williams will be the game's Exec Dir. Montgomery in recent years "spent approximately $10 million to renovate the Cramton Bowl." As more TV networks "eye bowl games, ESPN is trying to maintain its firm grip on the postseason." ERT "now owns nine bowl games." Sun Belt Commissioner Karl Benson said that the "need for a third bowl tie-in, geographical considerations and ESPN's involvement made Montgomery a sensible choice." He added that the Sun Belt "will guarantee to purchase 2,500 tickets for Montgomery's bowl" (AL.com, 8/19). In Montgomery, Tim Gayle reports city officials "began looking for a postseason bowl game even before the Cramton Bowl renovation was completed in July 2011, but a moratorium on bowl games prevented that from happening until 2014." The Raycom College Football All-Star Classic made its debut in January '13, but the Camellia Bowl "will bring an end to the All-Star game." Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange said that despite the change the city "did not break any contracts in severing its ties with the All-Star game." The city "will provide $225,000 annually as well as in-kind services and will receive several television spots on the network in return." A corporate title sponsor for the game "must be secured." ERT Senior VP & GM Pete Derzis said, "We’re going to find the right sponsor for this game. It’s going to take a little while but I’m very optimistic we’re going to find someone that’s a great fit" (MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER, 8/20).
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