Blog Entry

Former "Pizza Bowl" gets less interesting sponsor

Posted on: November 5, 2010 11:55 am
Posted by Jerry Hinnen

It's a shame about the Bowl , really. Nothing spoke quite so efficiently and eloquently about the new world of low-rung ESPN -created corporate bowl sponsorship quite like having a bowl not after the nationally-recognized pizza delivery chain, but (as one prominent college football blogger has repeatedly pointed out) the website of the nationally-recognized pizze delivery chain. If there are any college football fairies out there, fluttering around in shoulder pads and eyeblack, it's a given that every time someone typed or said " Bowl" one of them fell down dead.

So it's good news for fairies but bad news for lovers of garlic-butter dipping sauce that the Birmingham bowl lost its title sponsorship earlier this year, and after a brief run as simply the "Birmingham Bowl ," has found a new corporate sponsor : banking conglomerate BBVA Compass. The inaugural, yep, BBVA Compass Bowl will take place at Jan. 8.

It's excellent news for the bowl, which has suffered from poor attendance, lackluster ratings, and the general decline of its Legion Field home since its inception. Losing its original title sponsor appeared to be another heavy blow. But as it turns out, ESPN is not one to give up on its properties so easily, and has in fact dramatically upped its investment in the game :

In order to secure new four-year contracts with the SEC and Big East, ESPN increased its payouts. The SEC receives $1 million if it plays in the game, up from $900,000 last year; the Big East gets $900,000, up from $600,000.

Of course, the Wordwide Leader isn't footing that bill all by itself; the increase in payout was one factor cited by Papa John's for deserting the game, and there's also this racket:

Each participating team is obligated to buy 10,000 tickets at $50 each, bringing the bowl another $200,000 in revenue.

That's a $500,000 up-front layout for each participating school before they even buy their first plane ticket. If the payout listed for SEC and Big East teams doesn't apply to the Conference USA or MAC teams that could get an invite if not enough larger-conference teams are eligible , the trip might not be worth it no matter who's sponsoring the game.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or