Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Big Ten [Print without images]

Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Big Ten will be patient with Orlando bowls for now

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

CHICAGO -- Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany would like to see Citrus Bowl Stadium renovated in the near future, but he's not issuing any ultimatums to bowl organizers in a rough economic time.

The Big Ten plays two postseason games in the stadium, the Capital One Bowl and Champs Sports, and agreements with both bowls expire after the 2009 season. Both the Big Ten and the SEC have expressed concern about the condition of the facility, and plans for a $175 million renovation are on hold for the foreseeable future.

"It's our priority to play in great venues, and it's a venue that has fallen behind," Delany said of Citrus Bowl Stadium. "That doesn't mean, in and of itself, that we're not going to consider it. We're going to consider it, but listen, whether you're working in media, whether you're working in the television area, whether you're working in municipalities, it's a tough time.

"I'm not insensitive to what their priorities are. We've always tried to work with them to help them to build their facility to a better level."

Five of the Big Ten's bowl agreements expire after 2009, but Delany said negotiations won't take place until a later date because of the struggling economy and its impact on sponsorship, television, etc. Delany expects to start hammering out deals this fall.

Though the Big Ten wants to see improvement in Orlando and will undoubtedly have other bowl destinations, Delany said, "There's no ultimatum, not from me."

But how long will he be willing to wait?

The Orlando Sentinel reported that Florida Citrus Sports CEO Steve Hogan and several Orlando city officials agreed it could be 10 years before a renovation takes place. It would be hard to see the Big Ten wait around that long, especially with other bowls (Cotton, Gator) potentially vying for a tie-in. 

Wisconsin has played in an Orlando bowl game in three of the last four seasons and hopes to see the relationship continue.

"They were first class," Badgers head coach Bret Bielema said. "Our kids have absolutely enjoyed every minute of the visits there. As a player and a coach, I've always had great experiences."