Contract Signing Kicks Off Festivities Thursday Night

The freshly painted football surface at Tropicana Field served as the backdrop as FIU and Marshall officially accepted their invitations to the 2011 Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl St. Petersburg at the official contract signing at the Everglades Smokehouse Thursday night.

"It's a great day in St. Petersburg," said Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl St. Petersburg Executive Director Brett Dulaney. "We have two fine teams who have accepted invitations to our bowl game."
Beef 'O' Brady's, now in its third year as title sponsor for the game, was represented by CEO Chris Elliott.

"We are extremely excited to have Marshall and FIU in this year's game," said Elliott. "We have a great relationship with ESPN, our partners in the bowl game, because we both view this an opportunity to support the local community."

Other dignitaries in attendance included Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl St. Petersburg honorary chairman Mike Alstott and City of St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster.

"We have two great teams and we couldn't be happier to join Beef 'O' Brady's and ESPN to welcome these schools to St. Petersburg," said Foster. "This is going to be a great matchup and I invite the entire Tampa Bay region and beyond to experience this bowl game. Thank you for allowing the City of St. Petersburg to play host to this great event."

Accepting the bowl invitation on behalf of FIU were Executive Director of Sports & Entertainment Pete Garcia, joined by head coach Mario Cristobal.

"It is a tremendous honor for our team to play in this game against a great program like Marshall," said Cristobal. "Our fans and families are extremely excited and we cannot thank everyone enough for this opportunity. This was our destination bowl, and it is a privilege and honor to accept this bid."

Marshall Athletic Director Mike Hamrick and head coach Doc Holliday accepted the official invitation at the event.

"You can't believe the passion our fans have for our program and I can assure you they will show that passion here in St. Pete in a couple of weeks," said Holliday. "It is a privilege to be here and we are looking forward to it."

Kickoff for this year's contest is set for 8:00 p.m. on Tuesday, December 20 at Tropicana Field.

©2014 ESPN Internet Ventures. Terms of Use and Privacy Policy and Safety Information/Your California Privacy Rights are applicable to you. All rights reserved.