UPDATE – Jeff Reed: Little Rock Bowl Game Chances Improving

UPDATE 6/14/13 11:30 a.m.

UALR’s athletic director, Chris Peterson, was on 95.3 The Ticket in Jonesboro, Ark., Friday and said he has been working with leaders from the Sun Belt Conference, the MAC and central Arkansas business leaders about the potential of Little Rock hosting a bowl game – The Rice Bowl. He said a bowl game in Little Rock would be a “startup bowl game – not replacing one that exists.”

“Why not a Rice Bowl?” Peterson said. He also said the optimal time for a bowl game would be in December before Christmas.

“In a perfect world, we’re looking at the 20th of December… But that is my wish,” he said.

He said ESPN has been contacted about the potential of being a television partner. “We have to have a tv partner.” Additionally, he indicated conference leadership has plans for discussions with ESPN in the coming weeks.

Peterson said there have been preliminary discussions with Riceland Foods as a sponsor, but “nothing in stone.”

“The tv deal has to be done, first,” he said. “A lot has to be done before we can say there is a done deal [with a sponsor].”

Peterson said he hopes central Arkansas will support a bowl game. “This is our time to shine. Show the country we are the kind of football fans we profess to be in this state.”

Editor’s Note: Sun Belt Commissioner Karl Benson discusses why he was in Little Rock Thursday, at War Memorial Stadium:

Jeff Reed Author Page
For those die-hard Red Wolves fans who are adamantly opposed to Arkansas State playing any games in Little Rock this one one has to make them think a little.

Astatenation.com reported this week that the chances of a bowl game coming to Little Rock have improved greatly in recent days. In fact, an official at an in-state school that is a member of the Sun Belt Conference said a new agreement matching the Sun Belt and The Middle America Conference (MAC) is “very likely.”

The Little Caesars Pizza Bowl in Detroit, which was hosted by a MAC team is losing its home and is looking around. Folks in Detroit are looking around town to see if a suitable venue can be found.

The Little Caesars  Bowl was played indoors at Ford Field, which recently decided it was going to create its own bowl with a tie-in to the Big Ten and the Atlantic Coast Conference. That game is planned for 2014.

The Ford Field bowl has made a presentation to the Big Ten members, something the Pizza Bowl could not do because it had not secured a home.

The Pizza Bowl is looking at moving to Comerica Park, where the Detriot Tigers play, after 2013, the last year of the agreement between the MAC, Big Ten and ESPN. But an outside game in Detriot in December is risky, weather-wise.

This year’s game will be the 17th for the bowl, which was once known as the Motor City Bowl.

In his press conference at the end of the Sun Belt Conference meetings this week, league commissioner Karl Benson said he expects a third bowl tie-in for the SBC soon. There are existing tie-ins with the New Orleans Bowl and the GoDaddy Bowl, where ASU has played the past two years.

In December, Benson said he visited War Memorial Stadium. A visit by MAC officials is expected this summer.

“The Sun Belt Conference is very interested in Little Rock as a potential bowl site,” Benson said. “We know there are conversations that are ongoing with some of the powers that be within the corporate community in Little Rock. Chris Peterson, the athletic director at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, is taking a strong lead in bringing some of those important people to the table. War Memorial would be a fantastic bowl site. I think the Sun Belt is very bullish on Little Rock as a potential bowl site for us.”

Taking over the Pizza Bowl charter would be the easiest and quickest way for Little Rock to get its bowl game. Working out a TV contract would be the next major hurdle, but with cable outlets clamoring for programming that would likely not be much of an issue.

Bowl sponsorship, however, might be.


UPDATE 6/13/13 9:32 a.m.

Perhaps it’s the Rice Bowl?


Astatenation.com is reporting a graphic seen on the scoreboard at War Memorial Stadium – The Rice Bowl. Details are available by clicking here.


UPDATE 6/11/13 9:38 a.m.

From ESPN’s Brett McMurphy:

As many as nine locations are under consideration to begin bowl games in 2014, according to sources: Miami, Orlando, Little Rock, Ark.; Boca Raton, Fla.; Montgomery, Ala.; Los Angeles; Ireland; Dubai and either Toronto or Nassau, the Bahamas.

Any new bowls created in 2014 would be for the smaller conferences: the American Athletic Conference, Conference USA, Mid-American, Mountain West and Sun Belt. An NCAA moratorium to add new bowls expires after the 2013 season.

A potential bowl at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock is expected to pit C-USA vs. the Sun Belt, a source said. The Christmas Bowl or Los Angeles Bowl, to be held at the Los Angeles Coliseum, is trying to secure a game pitting the Mountain West annually against either the Pac 12 or American conferences.



(Jeff Reed is editor of Astatenation.com. His column appears weekly for Sporting Life Arkansas.)

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  • stAte

    Little Rock is a very good site for a bowl game.

    • Barry

      Should be good bowl. Wonder if Wally Hall and his idiot paper will cover a sunbelt bowl game?? Georgia Redwolf

  • Anybody who has endured two trips to Ladd-Peebles for the GoDaddy Bowl knows that War Memorial and Little Rock would be a perfect host for a mid-major bowl.

  • Boston

    I’m for anything that helps WMS pay its bills, but I can’t imagine a football game in LR in December bringing many people, especially if it’s a night game. Liberty Bowl weather in Memphis is pretty miserable most years, but usually has fairly high profile teams. The NCAA might as well allow 62 bowls so every team can go to one. There was a time when going to a bowl meant something. Not now. It’s just the 13th game against an unscheduled opponent. MAC v Sunbelt is probably the best we could get. Might fill a couple of hotels.

    • stAte

      Going to a bowl means as much now as it ever did. It’s always been for the fans of the two teams, the local bowl reps and the hardcore sports fans watching on TV. Almost no bowls will fill up a stadium but with good regional matchups they are great for the town and the teams. As long as there are 8 and 9 win teams being left out then there is a need for more bowls. If anyone wanted to improve the bowls, they would stop inviting 6 win bottom dwellers over 9 win teams like La. Tech.

      • Drew F.

        Louisiana Tech had a bowl invite and turned it down.

      • stAte

        That is the rumor but if they had taken a bowl then another deserving team like WKU would likely have been left out. La Tech is just one example.

  • Jay

    Bout time!! Get a couple quality opponents in there and make it happen!! Of course, lots of folks around here are to stuck up to realize a good game outside the SEC..would be interesting to see how it’s supported and marketed locally. Would like to see it vs AAC or a lower AQ team personally..MAC not known for travel much

  • Barry

    Sunbelt bowl in Little Rock will be as big of a hit as SLA Webb site is. I Can’t wait to see old friends from all over!! Georgia Redwolf