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Birth of a Bowl
With so much enthusiasm for the football in the State of Florida, a state that has representation in four major NCAA conferences, it seemed only natural for the addition of a new Bowl Game in the Sunshine State.
So natural in fact, that the Worldwide Leader in Sports took an interest, and along with former St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker and representatives from Visit St. Petersburg Clearwater and the Tampa Bay Sports Commission. ESPN successfully pitched the idea for the Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl to the NCAA Bowl Certification Committee.
On April 30th, 2008 ESPN Regional Television (ERT), a subsidiary of ESPN, Inc., announced the creation of the Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl, a college football postseason game to be nationally televised on ESPN 2.
The Bowl is owned and operated by ERT and will be played at Tropicana Field, home of the 2008 American League Champion Tampa Bay Rays. In addition to announcing the formation of the bowl that day, ERT also announced the bowl would feature a bowl-eligible team from the BIG EAST Conference against one from Conference USA.
“St. Petersburg is proud to host the Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl,” former St Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker said, “With the announcement, our city joins an elite group of 28 cities nationwide to host a NCAA Collegiate bowl game. I’d like to thank ESPN for its leadership in recruiting the bowl game, and we look forward to welcoming the BIG EAST and Conference USA to St. Petersburg.”
ESPN Regional Television owns and operates six other post season college football bowls: the BBVA Compass Bowl (Birmingham, AL); the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl (Fort Worth, TX); the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl; the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas, the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas and the New Mexico Bowl.
We look forward to the opportunity to host a bowl game at a great destination – St. Petersburg,” said Pete Derzis, Senior Vice President and General Manager, ERT. “The St. Petersburg area has a great association with sports, it’s a great venue and this is sure to be a rewarding experience for the student-athletes and their teams, as well as the fans who attend the game.”
“We are thrilled to be hosting the Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl,” said DT Minich, Executive Director of Visit St. Petersburg Clearwater. “From Grand Prix to baseball tournaments to triathlons, the St Pete/Clearwater area has a long history of hosting prestigious sporting events, so we’re honored to b named the inaugural home of a bowl competition. It also gives us the opportunity to showcase on of America’s premiere sports travel and vacations destinations, with award winning beaches, world-class cultural attractions and more.”
“The Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl is another great bowl opportunity for the BIG EAST,” said Mike Trangese, then BIG EAST Conference Commissioner. “The game is played in a BIG EAST market and already has generated great interest in the local community, and the partnership with ESPN will help the game grow quickly. Our coaches are always excited to play a postseason game in the State of Florida.”
“We are excited about the opportunity to develop a new bowl in Florida,” C-USA Commissioner Britton Banowsky said. “St. Petersburg is a wonderful community and a great destination for C-USA fans. The BIG EAST Conference will surely provide a great opponent on the other side of the ball. We also are confident that our partner, ESPN Regional Television, will make the experience positive and memorable for the student-athletes.”
On December 7th, 2008, the bowl announced the University of South Florida (BIG EAST) and the University of Memphis (Conference USA) became the first ever invites to the Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl.