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Thursday, September 18, 2014 | Last updated: 4:46pm

Tucson could use a bowl



With the Arizona football team getting selected for the New Mexico Bowl and how it was under consideration for the Las Vegas, Kraft Fight Hunger and Sun Bowls, the discussion of bowl games is fresh in the minds of UA football fans.

Tucson is the most prominent warm-weather city lacking a bowl game with about a million people and one of the most visible college sports programs in the country. Even some cold-weather cities like Boise, New York, Detroit, San Francisco and Washington D.C. have bowl games. Sure, those are all big cities, but why not have a bowl game in Tucson where winter is pretty much non-existent?

There are even three bowls played on baseball fields. Arizona Stadium has a gigantic scoreboard and next year the stadium will be even nicer when the Lowell-Stevens Football Facility in the north end zone reaches its completion.

Bowl games generate about $1.285 billion a year for the host communities, according to the Football Bowl Association. Tucson should get a slice, certainly ahead of places like Boise, whose bowl teams turn down.

Tucson used to have a bowl game, the Copper Bowl/Insight.com Bowl from 1989-1999, until it was taken by Phoenix to be the second or third-most prominent bowl in a city that doesn’t care much for college sports (look at ASU’s attendance for football and basketball).

In 2004, when Notre Dame played Oregon State, 45,917 attended, and in 2005 when hometown ASU played Rutgers, 43,536 attended.

In the 13 years the bowl has been in the Phoenix area, it has sold more than 50,000 tickets only twice, with less than 45,000 five times and less than 42,000 three times. When it was in Tucson it was a WAC bowl — now it features teams from two of the top three most popular conferences, the Big Ten and Big 12, so they shouldn’t have to tarp over sections like a WNBA game.

If the Pac-12 were to add a Tucson bowl, it would potentially be among the league’s most prominent.

El Paso, Texas, (Sun Bowl) and Albuquerque, N.M., (New Mexico Bowl) don’t seem too popular, and although San Francisco is cool, it’s on a baseball field and has drawn 42,268 only when hometown Cal was playing. Expect 20-30 thousand for the ASU-Navy bout this year.

The New Mexico Bowl could easily move one state over. In 2006, 34,111 attended the inaugural New Mexico Bowl, when the hometown team played and since then the bowl has only drawn more than 30,000 once, bottoming out at 24,898 in 2009 and 24,735 in 2008.

Albuquerque is cool, but it’s more like a poor man’s Tucson, a smaller version of the Old Pueblo with colder weather.

Arizona Stadium will have three locker rooms, the current home, the new UA locker room in the north end zone complex and the old visitor’s one. The visitor’s locker room is a pit, as it should be, but now a bowl team doesn’t have to go there, they can both use the UA locker rooms.

It’s December and we’re wearing t-shirts and shorts to class in Tucson. Isn’t that enough?


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