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Conference USA teams will "participate in newly created bowl games in Nassau, Bahamas, and Boca Raton, Fla., starting in 2014," according to sources cited by Brett McMurphy of ESPN.com. The Bahamas Bowl would be the "first postseason bowl played outside" the U.S. since the Int'l Bowl was held in Toronto from '07-10. It would be "held at Thomas Robinson Stadium, which has a 15,000-seat capacity." Bahamas Bowl creator Lea Miller said, "We hope to have something completed in the next two weeks." Meanwhile, the new bowl in Boca Raton "would be held at FAU Stadium." The addition of the new bowls means there will be "at least 38 bowl games" in '14. Sources said that ESPN will "own the new bowl game in Boca Raton and is expected to purchase the Heart of Dallas Bowl." ESPN will then own "11 of the 32 non-College Football Playoff bowl games beginning in 2014" (ESPN.com, 8/20). In West Palm Beach, Tom D'Angelo reports naming rights for the bowl at FAU are "still to be negotiated." FAU AD Pat Chun said that the deal "is not done although negotiations are moving forward" (PALM BEACH POST, 8/21). In Miami, David Neal wrote Thomas Robinson Stadium in the Bahamas holds only 15,000, but for a "bowl involving a Conference USA team, that might mean 'PACKED HOUSE ROCKING!'" C-USA has been "looking at someplace in South Florida to stick another bowl game." FAU Stadium is "nicely-sized for a lower tier bowl and needs events to help pay off the enormous debt FAU incurred in building the joint" (MIAMIHERALD.com, 8/20).
TOO MUCH ALREADY? In Ft. Lauderdale, Dieter Kurtenbach reports the American Athletic Conference in the coming weeks also is "expected to announce the creation of a new South Florida bowl" to be played at Marlins Park (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 8/21). In Orlando, Matt Murschel wrote, "We’ve already reached the tipping point when it comes to too many bowl games in the current college football landscape." The average attendance for "these games reached its lowest point last season in more than three decades." Meanwhile, television ratings "continue to climb with ESPN winning the day thanks to owning the broadcast rights for most of the bowl games." Money is a "major factor among these decisions, but it’s also a reason that some of these games won’t be able to survive in the coming years." Murschel: "It just seems to me a case of too much, too soon" (ORLANDOSENTINEL.com, 8/20).
TWITTER REAX: The Birmingham News' Jon Solomon wrote, "Keep in mind, there will be more FBS teams to fill bowl spots. Still, 38 bowls is a lot. But what else is ESPN going to air in December?" The Chicago Sun-Times' Seth Gruen: "Just saw a report that a new bowl is being added in Boca Raton. Not sure there's a title sponsor yet but I think AARP would be solid choice." SB Nation's Jason Kirk: "Please name the Bahamas Bowl after the Bacardi Bowl, I don't care if it makes sense or not." SI's Stewart Mandel wrote, "Possibilities for the Boca Raton Bowl are endless. Halftime shuffleboard tourney? Early-bird concessions prices if you get there by 1st qtr?" Grantland's Ian Cohen: "It's like Conference USA is creating bowl games in cities just because Cam'ron namedropped them once." Blogger Sean Keeley: "Boca Raton Bowl gift bag will include a phone, so you call your grandparents more often. It wouldn't kill you, you know. Have some soup." CSE's Matt Kramer: "Better play that game at 2 pm before everyone is asleep."
PIZZA! PIZZA!: In Detroit, Joe Rexrode wrote the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl "might not be dead after all, and Ford Field might host two bowl games starting in the 2014-15 college football season." Little Caesars Pizza Bowl Chair & Exec Dir Ken Hoffman yesterday said that the Lions and Ford Field have "softened their stance and are open to the possibility of a second bowl game in the facility." Hoffman added that he "hopes to have something to announce by the end of the upcoming regular season." He and Pizza Bowl CEO George Perles had "expressed the desire to keep the game alive and possibly play it at Comerica Park in the future, if necessary" (FREEP.com, 8/20).
The NCAA in response to an attendance downturn at men's lacrosse championship weekends is "now open to allowing non-NFL stadiums to serve as hosts in upcoming years," according to Edward Lee of the Baltimore SUN. The development comes "on the heels of three consecutive years of reduced attendance." Attendance at this year's D-I semifinals and final at Lincoln Financial Field was "the lowest since the final four began rotating" between M&T Bank Stadium, Gillette Stadium and Lincoln Financial Field in '03. NCAA Associate Dir of Championships & Alliances Anthony Holman noted that the organization "still has a 40,000-seat requirement for host venues," but added that that figure "could be lowered while accounting for suites and club-level seating." He said, "I think we would still be looking for the same things like a facility that can accommodate the number of games that we're going to play, the field, the surface, the hotels, restaurants and all of the other amenities that go along with hosting a championship." Venues like Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis and Byrd Stadium in College Park "could serve as venues." However, Holman said, "The thing that you lose sometimes when you go to collegiate campuses is the atmosphere ... sometimes you (lose) that identity of a desirable travel destination for those who are coming in for the championship." Lee notes moving the Final Four from Memorial Day weekend also has "been discussed." But Holman said that "feedback from fans on that topic has been mixed" (Baltimore SUN, 8/21).
TOUGH SPOT: Holman noted that "ticket prices, the date of the event, the impact of increased television exposure and a tough economy will all be evaluated." LACROSSE MAGAZINE's Corey McLaughlin noted ticket prices have "roughly doubled in the last eight years." Ticket prices in past bid cycles have been "set as a result of revenue guarantees by hosts to the NCAA." Univ. of Denver coach Bill Tierney said, "The truth of the matter is those guarantees got a little exorbitant and it meant ticket prices got exorbitant." McLaughlin noted increased, quality TV exposure for the sport "often is cited as a reason for the championship weekend attendance decline." ESPN Communications Manager Mike Humes said, "If we say we'll stop televising it, people will go, 'Why aren't you trying to grow the sport?'" ESPN Senior Coordinating Producer John Vassallo said, "We hate when we're producing a game and we see an empty seat. Every producer at ESPN would love the event they produce to have as many people there as possible" (LAXMAGAZINE.com, 8/12).