Friday, December 13, 2002
Richt hopes to stick to one QB
HONOLULU -- The operator of the Aloha and Oahu bowls said it is all but certain that the two football bowl games will be relocated to the West Coast.
Fritz Rohlfing, executive director of Aloha Sports Inc., said Friday that the company is applying for certification for a venue change that would move the Oahu Bowl to Seattle and the Aloha Bowl to San Francisco. Any change would be subject to NCAA approval.
"It's sad to see the Aloha Bowl move, but it makes sense from a business standpoint and the overall good of college football to be played in a venue that can provide fans and financial support," Rohlfing said.
A formal announcement is unlikely until NCAA officials approve the certification papers, he said.
"We think we'll be a success, but it's not a done deal yet," he said.
Pacific-10 Conference spokesman Jim Muldoon said Aloha Sports has one year left on the agreement with the conference.
"If they are successful in moving one or both games to the mainland, we wouldn't have any problem with that," Muldoon said.
The Oahu Bowl was introduced in 1998 as a Christmas Day doubleheader with the older Aloha Bowl in Honolulu. Georgia beat Virginia 37-14 in the last Oahu Bowl. Boston College beat Arizona State 31-17 in the Aloha Bowl last year.
With the games split between Christmas Eve and Christmas Day last year, ticket sales ran far below expectations. Attendance sank to a record low -- 24,187 for the Oahu Bowl -- and Aloha Sports began looking into sites on the West Coast.
"The reason (for the relocation) is because the model of postseason college bowl games does not work well with Hawaii's location," Rohlfing said. "The fans for the schools competing in the games cannot get a plane ticket, and can't get to Hawaii in short notice."
In Seattle, the bowl would be Jan. 2 at Safeco Field, home of the Mariners baseball team, and in future years would be played at the new football and soccer stadium being built by Seahawks owner Paul Allen, Rohlfing said, noting that the plan is still in negotiations. The bowl in San Francisco would be played on Dec. 30. Possible locations have not been announced.
Jim Haugh, president of the Sports and Events Council of Seattle-King County, said Thursday the Seattle switch has been approved by the NCAA, with Jeep remaining the principal sponsor and the name changing to the Jeep Seattle Bowl.
"This is big. It's something that binds our community together," Haugh said. "Obviously, for our community, this is a huge opportunity."
The Oahu Bowl would be televised on ESPN and carry a $750,000 payout for the competing teams.
A Mariners spokesman, Randy Adamack, said the possibility of a bowl game at Safeco Field had been discussed and, although no agreement had been signed, there would be no obstacles to laying out a gridiron in the two-year-old ballpark.