Board members of the football game formerly known as the Dollar General Bowl are currently courting other possible title sponsors, President Jerry Silverstein confirmed to Lagniappe last week.
The discount store has ended its sponsorship with the game played at Ladd-Peebles Stadium between a Sunbelt Conference team and a Mid-America Conference, or MAC, team and left organizers searching for a replacement in order to help defray the $1.2 million bill to the city, per the contract.
“We’ve courted a lot of possible sponsors and got some interest from a number of them,” Silverstein said.
Finding a title sponsor has its challenges, Silverstein said. Not only does there need to be mutual interest on the part of the sponsor and the bowl board, but ESPN, the network televising the game, must also approve, as well as the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and the conference commissioners.
“There are three major people to satisfy when finding the right sponsor,” he said.
If a title sponsor cannot be found by the deadline for the game to be played Jan. 6 at Ladd-Peebles Stadium, this will be only the second year the game has gone without a sponsor. The other year was the game’s first when it was known simply as the Mobile, Alabama Bowl.
The game has a lot of attractive qualities for possible sponsors. For instance, it’s slated for an ESPN broadcast in a Monday night timeslot and exactly a week before the College Football Playoff National Championship game kicks off, Silverstein said.
“We’ll be the only college game on that night,” he said. “I think it puts a lot of eyeballs on it.”
Benefit to the city
Since the game’s inception 21 years ago, the city has paid more than $1 million upfront to host the game. Sponsorship money is then used to defray or cover the cost of that initial city investment. In addition, Silverstein said, the city benefits from sales tax on tickets, lodgings taxes and sales taxes on food during what is normally a dead period, following the holiday season.
The economic impact of the game is also important to the city. Silverstein cited numbers provided by a study from University of South Alabama professor Christopher Keshock, Ph.D, that showed a $19 million economic impact. That impact comes from fans who travel to the game from other cities.
“By contract with [conference] commissioners, the [conferences] are obligated to buy so many tickets,” Silverstein said.
The city also gets exposure to a national audience, with as many as nine commercials played during the game promoting Mobile-area tourism, he said. In addition, the city is promoted coming out of each commercial break and the game is discussed in media coverage following the game.
“It’s in every newspaper and on every telecast,” Silverstein said. “Every bar open that night will have it on.”
In addition, bowl games are highly sought-after from cities both large and small. The number of these games have increased dramatically from 25 in 1993 to 40 to as many as 43 next year, following a moratorium on games, he said.
The three cities adding games next year are Los Angeles, Boston at Fenway Park and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
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