Poinsettia Bowl no more, MW down to six bowl game options

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The 12-year run of the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl has ended, effectively terminating its partnership with the Mountain West Conference and its member schools.

The San Diego Bowl Game Association board of the directors announced Wednesday that it will produce only one bowl game for 2017 and beyond — The Holiday Bowl.

“College football and the bowl game structure has gone through major changes through the years and our board feels the time is right to focus our efforts on one post-season game,” Mark Neville, the association’s executive director, said in a statement. “The San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl staged exciting match-ups for more than a decade and we were one of the few cities to host two bowl games.”

The decision, which comes just weeks after San Diego lost the NFL’s partnership with the Chargers departure to Los Angeles, comes amid decreasing interest and attendance, an already bloated post-season schedule of bowls and uncertainty of the future of the host site, Qualcomm Stadium.

The Poinsettia Bowl drew an average attendance of 32,264, throughout its existence. However, the game’s four smallest crowds were in the past six years. In 2005, the year of the Poinsettia Bowl’s inception, the post-season schedule only included 28 other bowl games, but that number has now grown to 41.

“As the changes have developed in college football in the bowl industry, it has become increasingly difficult to sell tickets and secure sponsorships,” Neville said. “Doing two games in San Diego within the span of a week has become more and more difficult as the years have gone by. It made total sense for us to put all of our energy and efforts (into the Holiday) for securing sponsorships, for selling tickets, for creating the very best bowl experience for our fans and student-athletes and the bands and the cheer squads, everybody.”

With the decision, the Mountain West is now is down to just six bowl destinations for its 12 schools — the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl, the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, the Gildan New Mexico Bowl, the NOVA® Home Loans Arizona Bowl, the Las Vegas Bowl and the Hawai‘i Bowl. The Mountain West also has a secondary position with the Ticket City Cactus Bowl, in case the Pac-12 or Big-12 conferences are unable to fill it.

“We were aware today’s announcement from the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl was a possibility,” Mountain West Commissioner Craig Thompson said in a statement. “While we are disappointed by the decision, the Mountain West is thankful for the tremendous relationship we’ve enjoyed with the bowl game.”

Thompson also added that he and the Mountain West are already in the process of, “vetting future options to ensure postseason opportunities for our student-athletes.”

“The city of San Diego and the Poinsettia Bowl were outstanding hosts and provided a first-class experience for several MW institutions over 12 seasons,” Thompson said. “The Poinsettia Bowl is one of six postseason games the Mountain West has been a part of creating during its 18-year history.”

Utah State had made one appearance in the bowl game back in 2013, after an 8-5 season. Former Aggies Darell Garretson and Joey DeMartino, along with current USU head coach Matt Wells, prevailed over No. 23 Northern Illinois, 21-14, in front of 23,408 attendees.

“Our league is working on some other alternatives, but as of right now we’re obviously down one of those automatic slots,” Utah State Athletics Director John Hartwell said. “Our conference office is working to see if there are some opportunities for other bowls with potential tie-ins.”

BYU defeated Wyoming, 24-21, last month at Qualcomm Stadium in the 12th, and now final, edition of the Poinsettia Bowl.


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