The Sega Sports Las Vega Bowl group announced Monday that it had extended its contract with the Mountain West Conference, to which CSU belongs, for an additional three years. The bowl committee also entered into a two-year contract with the Pac-10 Conference.
The Las Vegas Bowl will again be played on Christmas Day, and typically features the second selection from the MWC; with the new agreement, the fifth selection from the Pac-10 will also be invited to the game. Last year, the sixth selection from the Pac-10 was invited. The game will be held at the recently renovated Sam Boyd Stadium (seats 40,000) and nationally televised on ESPN, with the time still to be announced. The two selected teams will each receive an $800,000 payout.
“The Mountain West Conference is proud to maintain its relationship with the Sega Sports Las Vegas Bowl,” MWC Commissioner Craig Thompson said. “The continuation of the partnership with such a respected conference as the Pac-10 further enhances the growth of the game.”
Since its inception in 1992, the Las Vegas Bowl, which is owned and operated by ESPN, has played host to a Pac-10 team only twice: the first in 1997 when the University of Oregon defeated the Air Force Academy (then a Western Athletic Conference team) 41-13, and again last year when the University of Southern California was defeated 10-6 by the MWC’s University of Utah. The 2001 game brought in a record paid attendance of 30,894 and was nationally televised Christmas Day on ABC.
“We are delighted to announce our conference affiliations for the next two years,” said, Tina Kunzer-Murphy, Las Vegas Bowl Executive Director. “Last year’s match-up between USC and the University of Utah proved to be a great success on Christmas Day. We look forward to continuing and building our relationship with the Pac-10 and Mountain West Conference in the future.”
The MWC’s second selection has gone to the bowl game since 1999, the conference’s innaugural year, and has won all three games. Utah won it last year and again in 1999 with a 17-16 victory over Fresno State, while UNLV defeated the Southeastern Conference’s University of Arkansas in 2000 with a 31-14 victory.
“The Mountain West Conference will send strong opponents to the game, and the citizens of Las Vegas, as well as fans from the two conferences, will enjoy exciting bowl game football,” said Tom Hansen, commissioner of the Pac-10, which includes the University of Arizona, Arizona State, the University of California, Oregon, Oregon State, Stanford, UCLA, USC, the University of Washington and Washington State.
Last season CSU ended the year as the second seed in the MWC but the Vegas invite officially went to Utah, which finished third but was in a closer proximity to Las Vegas, making the trip for Utes’ fans more feasible. Instead of Sin City, the Rams went to the inaugural New Orleans Bowl, where they destroyed the Sun Belt Conference’s University of North Texas, 45-20.
In other bowl related news, the AXA Liberty Bowl Executive Director Steve Ehrhart and Thompson are scheduled for a media teleconference today regarding the MWC/AXA Liberty Bowl contract extension. n