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Behind The Bowls - Part 3. Swag, $, and More
Western Michigan QB Tim Hiller
Western Michigan QB Tim Hiller
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Dec 17, 2008


What kinds of gifts, toys and swag do each of the players get from the bowls? Who are the key people behind the scenes? What do the bowls do for the communities? What qualifies as a success for each bowl? Richard Cirminiello dives into the behind the scenes stuff in part three of Behind The Bowls.



Behind The Bowls, Part 3

The swag, the events, the background for each bowl game

By Richard Cirminiello 

- Part 1 | Part 2

Holiday Bowl

Best Non-Game Event
For fans during bowl week of the Pacific Life Holiday Bowl, the bowl game parade is a huge hit.  It's the largest balloon parade in the country with even more giant inflatables than the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Kermit the Frog is grand marshal this year. The event is even nationally televised now on USA Network. For players, the highlight is the Navy & Marine Corps Luncheon.  It's held on board an active Navy ship and players have the opportunity to dine with sailors and Marines, and tour the ship.  It’s always a smash with the players.

Player Gift Package
Players from both schools will receive a Tourneau watch, a hooded sweatshirt from Sports Tek, an Insignia 19” HD TV/DVD Player, and a Best Buy gift certificate

Charitable Component
The Holiday Bowl works with several charities each year. One example this December involves the staging of a food drive with the San Diego Food Bank at the game.

How Success is Measured
There are many benchmarks by which the bowl committee measures success.  First, it aims to provide a considerable economic impact on the San Diego region. The more fans that travel to San Diego for each game the better. Second, it wants to see large crowds at each game. Third, it expects those fans to enjoy not only the game, but the entire experience, including pregame and halftime shows, and non-game entertainment. And finally, it’s important to the committee that the student-athletes have enjoyable bowl week experiences that will provide them memories to last a lifetime. The Holiday Bowl staff puts a lot of energy into providing them with a first-class San Diego bowl week.

MVP of the Bowl
There are so many people that play invaluable roles in the production of the game, it’s impossible to choose a single person.  The Holiday Bowl is fortunate to have a dedicated and loyal volunteer corps. It has 30 active board members, 120 committee members, and several hundred other volunteers. It's because of these selfless people that the bowl is so highly regarded throughout college football. The committee believes it has the hardest working corps of volunteers among the postseason games.

Impact to the Community
The mission of the bowl game is to generate tourism, exposure, economic benefit, and civic pride for San Diego and its citizens by presenting the nation's most entertaining bowl games and festivals of events.  The impact the game has on the San Diego community is considerable. Last year, for example, the games—the Holiday and Poinsettia Bowls—generated an economic benefit of more than $40 million. San Diegans are enthusiastic with the games. The local ticket base for the Pacific Life Holiday Bowl alone is approximately 35,000. Our renewal rate annually is in the neighborhood of 95%.

Role of Volunteers
There are only nine individuals who are paid to put on two games in San Diego, the Poinsettia and Holiday Bowl. They rely heavily on volunteers to make these games and festivities function on a year-round basis.  They produce, sell, and market their calendar of events, such as outrigger canoe races, 3-on-3 basketball tournament, golf tournament, weiner dog races, hole-in-one tournament, and more. They truly will play a role in every function associated with the organization. 

Texas Bowl

Best Non-Game Event
The bowl’s signature event is Rodeo Bowl, which is held at the George Historical Ranch, located about 20 minutes southwest of Houston. They take both teams out there one evening and volunteers from the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo set up rodeo events for the teams to compete against one another.  Some of the events are cow chip tossing, a calf scramble, and a roping contest. Afterwards, they have a big barbecue for both teams with live music so that they can all relax and have a good time. Two years ago, it was especially fun watching the Rutgers kids try to figure out what in the world they had gotten themselves into.

For fans, it's probably TexFest. TexFest is a massive pre-game party that’s thrown right outside the stadium.  It's free to anyone, and you don't even need a game ticket to attend. There's food, drinks, and games all over the place. Both teams enter the stadium by walking right through the middle of it, so team arrivals are a big deal with their bands and fans lining the walkway. There is also live music by Texas country music artists, which usually will draw a number of their fans on their own.

Player Gift Package
Each player gets a $350 Best Buy gift card, a Swisstek watch, an Under Armour HeatGear Long-Sleeve Tee, an Under Armour twister pant, an Under Armour tech cap, a Toppers backpack, and a commemorative belt buckle.

The unique thing this year is the Best Buy gift card. While most bowls give some sort of high tech gift, they’re giving the players the gift card and then turning them loose on a shopping spree inside a local Best Buy. It allows the kids a bit more freedom to choose something they'll really use, plus it should be a pretty fun photo op as well.

Charitable Component
The charitable beneficiary is DePelchin Children's Center. The agency was founded in 1892 by Kezia Payne DePelchin to shelter orphaned children. Over the years, DePelchin has expanded and adapted its programs to meet the needs of a dynamic and growing Houston. Today, DePelchin Children's Center, with the continued support of the Houston community, is the largest and most comprehensive provider of children's social and mental health services in the Houston area.

The Texas Bowl donated $50,000 to DePelchin in 2006 and increased that amount to $80,000 last year. The goal is $100,000 for this year's game.

How Success is Measured
The game has have five primary objectives by which success is measured: 1. Deliver a memorable experience for the athletes, schools, and conferences. First and foremost, this game is for the teams, and the committee wants to make sure that they have a great experience throughout the week.

2. Create an entertaining and engaging experience for the fans. They look at how many "Bowl Backer" ticket packages are sold and how many tickets are sold locally, particularly those sold before the teams are announced. If people are buying tickets before the team announcement is made, that probably means they either had a good time last year or heard good things about the game and want to see for themselves.

3. Positively impact an important and distinctively Texan charity. Again, DePelchin is their partner and their goal is to donate $100,000 this year.

4. Deliver visibility, positive perception, and economic impact for Houston.

5. Build a stable economic model to allow long-term bowl sustainability and a platform for growth. Again, local ticket sales are a big component of this. There will be years where the matchup isn't as attractive as others, so they have to count on Houstonians to fill up the stands year-in, year-out.  The only way to do

that is to put on a great event and make sure they enjoy the experience as a whole. They also look at how they’re doing with local sponsorships and trade agreements to determine if the Houston business community is supporting the game? Thus far, the answer has been a resounding yes.

MVP of the Bowl
Heather Houston.  Heather is the Texas Bowl Manager and is essentially the person in charge of every aspect of the game. The game’s full-time bowl staff is only four people (many on the Texans staff work the game, but are technically considered volunteers). Heather is constantly working the phones with coaches, athletic directors and conference commissioners to secure the best possible matchup for the game. When she's not doing that, she's working with the board of directors or finalizing details at the team hotels or talking to local companies about purchasing ticket blocks. On top of that, she has volunteers calling her at all hours to see what they can do to help out.

One neat little note about Heather: she is one of two women in the country, along with Missy Setters at the Independence Bowl, to be in charge of an NCAA bowl game.  Given the perception of bowl games being decided by a the good ol' boy network in some smoky backroom, it’s a credit to Heather that she and Ms. Setters have broken that stereotype.

Impact to the Community
The Texas Bowl has been a tremendous boost for the Greater Houston area. According to the Houston Convention & Visitors Bureau, the Texas Bowl has generated an average of $25 million in local revenue over the past two years, putting it on par with major conventions such as the Offshore Technology Conference in terms of economic impact in the greater Houston area. 

The hidden benefit of the bowl on the local economy is its timing. Fans traveling in to root on their school fill up hotel rooms during the week between Christmas and New Years, which is generally an extremely slow period for the hospitality industry since most folks spend that time at home or with family.

Role of Volunteers
Volunteers are on the front line of making the Texas Bowl a memorable and positive experience for the teams that come to the game. Their enthusiasm for football and love of the Houston community create the perfect hosts the game needs for this event.

Right now, they’re working with about 200 volunteers at the Texas Bowl. Their responsibilities are extremely varied, but they are broken down into two main functions: hospitality and events. Hospitality includes the Team Hospitality, Media Relations, Family Hosts, and Band Hospitality sub-committees. The Events Committee is broken down into sub-committees for Rodeo Bowl, TexFest, and In-Game. As mentioned earlier, many members of the Texans staff work on a volunteer basis as well, and they couldn't pull it off without their help. 

Armed Forces Bowl

Best Non-Game Event
The Team Kickoff Luncheon and the Armed Forces Adventure are our two favorites with the fans. Over the last five years, the game has had General David Petreaus, ESPN's Lee Corso, Dallas Cowboy's owner Jerry Jones, former Oklahoma Sooners and Dallas Cowboys coach Barry Switzer, and former Cowboy great Chad Hennings as keynote speakers at the luncheon, which annually draws 1,000 people. 

The Armed Forces Adventure is a fanfest area that has static military hardware from all five branches, such as tanks, fighter jets, Coast Guard ships, and Blue Angels flight simulators. It is believed to be the largest such display in the country. A large pep rally is conducted in the Armed Forces Adventure area the day before the game. An annual favorite for the players is the visit to Four-Day Weekend, a comedy troupe in Fort Worth that tailor-makes skits for each respective team.    

Player Gift Package
The game always tries to give at least one major high-tech item. This year it is a flip video recorder. In addition, players will receive an official bowl watch, a commemorative football, a rolling suitcase, a mini- helmet with a bowl logo on each side, an ESPN t-shirt, and a luggage tag with bowl logo.

Charitable Component
The two charities affiliated with the Armed Forces Bowl is the USO and the Children of Fallen Soldier's Relief Fund.

How Success is Measured
As in anything, there is no such thing as a perfect game. You strive for a sellout, good chemistry between the two teams which will hopefully produce a good game on the field, and excellent television ratings. Hospitality is also an extremely important component to success. The Armed Forces Bowl has had four or five teams tell it that it’s the number one bowl in that department. The game has 24 hospitality committees with over 200 volunteers. Paying tribute to the men and women in uniform is the underlying theme of the event.  

MVP of the Bowl
Nobody. It is truly a team effort and the Armed Forces Bowl has an outstanding professional staff and cadre of volunteers.

Impact to the Community
The economic impact is in the millions of dollars. Last year, for example, the game attracted more than 16,000 out-of-state visitors to the Fort Worth area for the event. Those fans, of course, fill up hotel rooms, restaurants, and shopping malls, and buy airline tickets and pay for rental cars, which need to be filled at local gas stations. In addition, Fort Worth is in the national spotlight for three hours during the live telecast of the game. 

Role of Volunteers
Volunteers are the backbone of the organization. Since the game only has four full-time staff members, it depends heavily on them and gives them a lot of responsibility. They have a very active role in hospitality and event management, and without their efforts, the Armed Forces Bowl wouldn't have enjoyed the growth and good reputation that’s been built over the last five years.  

Sun Bowl

Best Non-Game Event
The Sun Bowl has a new event this year, a Day with the Troops. It is an opportunity for players to get an up-close look at what the U.S. Army does. They will have the chance to get a rare look at many pieces of military equipment, such as tanks, missile launchers, and helicopters, while being able to repel in a safe environment. They will also have the opportunity to use U.S. Army training simulators.

Player Gift Package
Players from both schools will receive a Sony DVD Handycam, a Timely Watch Co. Silvertone watch, an Armor Gear Dolly Llama Travel Bag, a Majestic Therma Fleece Pullover, a Brut hair dryer, a VP Sports Stone cap, and an official Brut Sun Bowl souvenir coin.

Charitable Component
Teams donate game tickets to members of the U.S. military, who are training at Fort Bliss, some of whom are set for deployment in Iraq and Afghanistan. Teams also visit the two children’s hospitals in town.

How Success is Measured
Success is a three-fold premise: 1. Was it a good matchup and competitive game? 2. How were the TV Ratings? 3. Did the teams travel well and enjoy their stay in El Paso? Unlike a lot of bowl games, the Brut Sun Bowl is an opportunity to showcase the local community with the traveling schools and on national television. We often choose teams that would supply the best matchup rather than the schools that travels best. If you are able to have a good matchup, then most likely, the television audience will stay tuned, so No. 1 and No. 2 go hand-in-hand, while No. 3 is a bonus. In the end, the goal is to promote a city that El Pasoans cherish.

MVP of the Bowl
For the Brut Sun Bowl, it is two men who have devoted themselves to the Sun Bowl Association for decades,  Jimmy Rogers, Jr. and John Folmer. Rogers joined the board of directors of the association in the late 1950s and has been instrumental in the development and progression of the game ever since. He helped secure the TV contract with CBS in 1968 and has nurtured that relationship for the last 41 years, giving the game the longest single relationship between a bowl and a television network.

Folmer joined the Sun Bowl Association in 1971 and has served as the game’s football chairman since 1981. Both men have been invaluable to the success of the Brut Sun Bowl, from their ties to conferences and media partners to their ability to help secure sponsorships both locally and nationally. Because of their service to the Sun Bowl Association, each has had a game trophy named after them. Rogers is the namesake of the Most Valuable Lineman Trophy, while Folmer is the namesake of the Most Valuable Special Teams Player Trophy. Each presents their respective trophy at the conclusion of every Brut Sun Bowl.

Impact to the Community
This game provides the largest economic impact of a single event in the greater El Paso area. It is estimated that between $12-$15 million dollars is generated in direct economic impact and $30-$35 million in indirect impact.

Role of Volunteers
The game is highly dependent on local volunteers to make this operation work. The Sun Bowl has over 600 volunteers that help put on over 20 Sun Bowl Association events throughout the year. With only six full-time employees, there would be no Brut Sun Bowl without the help of the community. As the nation’s second oldest bowl game, it has some volunteers that have worked with the association for decades. The game is often referred to as the “Hospitality Bowl” because it goes the extra mile to make every out-of-town visitor feel special. The fans even invite visitors to taste El Paso at their tailgates; instead of brisket and brats, it is fajitas and tamales.

Music City Bowl

Best Non-Game Event
The night before the game, thousands of fans enjoy MusicFest/Battle of the Bands presented by Country Music Television (CMT) where bands from the participating universities square off downtown in the ultimate pep rally. It wouldn’t be the Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl without the music, right?

The can’t-miss event for the teams is the welcome party where players go head-to-head in perhaps an even better contest off the field. The battle royale, a good old fashion rib eating contest between the two teams, is a consistent player favorite.

Player Gift Package
Each player will receive a Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl Fossil wrist watch, a Sony Electronics package that includes a pair of noise canceling headphones and MP3 player, an Adidas fleece jacket, and an Armor Gear backpack.

Charitable Component
Celebrating its sixth season, the bowl’s community-outreach campaign, the Youth Football Program, has brought the spirit of the bowl to the families of more than 20,000 players, cheerleaders, and coaches in 20 youth football leagues throughout Middle Tennessee, southern Kentucky and northern Alabama in 80 communities.

The mission of the bowl’s Youth Football Program is to positively impact regional youth football leagues by providing financial support, tangible benefits and unique experiences. The bowl annually gives about $25,000-$30,000 in cash donations to the leagues, plus thousands of dollars in bowl tickets are donated. Approximately 75 championship teams parade onto LP Field to start the game in an exciting champion’s ceremony, providing teams a unique experience of being recognized in front of tens of thousands of fans.

How Success is Measured
The bowl utilizes the Nashville Sports Council’s nationally recognized Scorecard Report to measure the impact and effectiveness of sporting events on the local economy. The Scorecard measures economic impact, media exposure, and community involvement based on ratings and surveys from participants, spectators, volunteers and media that attended the event.

The measurements include overall ticket sales, pre-team announcement ticket sales, television ratings, out-of-town visitors, media coverage and bowl week activity attendance, among others.

MVP of the Bowl
While the Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl would love to select one individual as its Most Valuable Player, it is nearly impossible because of the enormous team effort it takes to put on a fun-filled bowl week and climactic game. With a full-time staff of nine and countless partners, the bowl is truly a community-wide effort.

Impact to the Community
Since the bowl’s 1998 inception, more than $20 million has been contributed to participating universities, 46 million viewers have watched the event on ESPN, and $142 million in economic impact has been generated for the Nashville community. Economic impact is determined through on-site surveys of attendees, participants, media, volunteers and spectators.

For the 2007 game between Kentucky and Florida State, the bowl ranked ninth in attendance out of all 32  games, with only two non-BCS bowls having more fans in attendance. The bowl continues to break attendance records, gaining popularity with Middle Tennesseans and conference schools. Pre-announcement ticket sales continue to increase, proving that this game is now considered a “must-see” for regional fans.

As noted above, the bowl also has a positive impact on the community through the all-important Youth Football Program. In 2008 alone, the bowl donated more than $25,000 to member leagues, as well as more than $150,000 worth of game tickets through the generous support of local companies and individuals.

Role of Volunteers
Tennessee is called the Volunteer State for a reason.  The bowl is extremely grateful to the droves of volunteers that serve in every capacity, assisting with media, teams, players, fans and bowl week events.  They are indispensable, continuing to show Nashville visitors that the city is hospitable, welcoming and friendly.