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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, May 2, 2002

'Hawai'i Bowl' approved

By Ferd Lewis
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawai'i will get back an NCAA football bowl game.

Certification of the nationally televised game to be played Christmas Day at Aloha Stadium is to be announced today by the NCAA's football certification subcommittee, according to people familiar with the situation.

The game, tentatively known as the "Hawai'i Bowl," pending a title sponsorship deal, will be owned and operated by ESPN Regional, the marketing arm of the cable sports network in partnership with the University of Hawai'i, the Western Athletic Conference and Conference USA.

"The University of Hawai'i will play a major role," said Chuck Gerber of ESPN Regional.

The WAC and Conference USA will each contribute a team to the game.

The return of a bowl — Hawai'i was the site of a bowl from 1982-2000 — assures UH a postseason appearance if the Warriors win at least seven of their 13 games this season. Last year, UH finished 9-3 but did not receive a bowl bid, prompting the school and WAC to team up with ESPN Regional.

The game will pay at least the NCAA minimum of $750,000 per team with the possibility of a higher payout depending upon attendance and sponsorships.

"We're looking forward to returning a bowl to Hawai'i," said Karl Benson, WAC commissioner. "It would be the first time the University of Hawai'i has been closely associated with a bowl, and we think that's an important factor."

Two other groups, Aloha Sports Inc. and Michigan-based Global Events Management, also made proposals to the NCAA to hold games here in December.

ESPN Regional, which also operates the Las Vegas Bowl and has petitioned the NCAA for a 2003 game in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, won out with a proposal that had a television commitment and conference affiliation.

Dennis Poppe, NCAA staff liaison with the certification subcommittee, said there have been mixed results with two bowls operating in the same area. He said New Orleans has been able to support two games while Miami could not.

The Aloha Bowl was held here from 1982 through 2000 and joined by the O'ahu Bowl between 1988 and 2000. Both games were sold to Aloha Sports Inc. in 2000 and the O'ahu Bowl was moved to Seattle. The former Aloha Bowl did not receive certification for a move to San Francisco and was attempting to return to Aloha Stadium for this season.

With the addition of the Hawai'i Bowl, the WAC could place as many as four of its 10 teams in bowls this season and as many as five in 2003 if the the Dallas-Fort Worth game receives certification. The WAC also has commitments with the Silicon Valley Bowl in San Jose, Calif., and Humanitarian Bowl in Boise, Idaho. In addition, the WAC is reportedly close to an agreement that would send a conference member in the Central time zone to the Mobile Bowl.

Benson said the conference will place teams in bowls based upon "which matchups make the most sense for the conference."