Sun Belt, others working to expand bowl landscape

Published 10:27pm Thursday, June 20, 2013

A proposed bowl game to be held in Montgomery could give schools like Troy another postseason option if it is approved. The bowl, to be named the Legends Bowl and played at Alabama State’s Hornet Stadium, will be the topic of conversation in coming weeks as the project awaits the NCAA’s thumbs up.

“Anytime that we can get addition bowl game ties it is great,” said Troy athletic director John Hartwell. “We want to make sure that when we have teams that qualify that we have a home for them.”

Currently, the Sun Belt Conference has just two automatic bowl tie ins, the R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl and the Bowl in Mobile. Last season the stars aligned to allow four Sun Belt teams into the postseason through secondary bowl affiliation with the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl and BBVA Compass Bowl. Middle Tennessee State finished with an 8-4 record but was left out of the bowl picture.

“We have 11 schools and just two spots for them right now,” Hartwell said. “We need to work to find more opportunities for all of our bowl eligible schools.”

The proposed Legends Bowl would be played at the newly renovated Hornet Stadium. The facility underwent a $62 million upgrade with a seating capacity of 26,500. It also feature 750 club seats, 20 luxury box suites and a 64-foot, high definition scoreboard.

The Legends Bowl Group, which is heading the effort to institute the new game, has said publicly that it is in talks with NBC and conferences such as the Sun Belt, Conference USA, MAC and Mountain West.

Montgomery is just one of several locations being considered for a new bowl. Miami, Little Rock, Los Angeles, Boca Raton, Ireland, Dubai, Toronto and Nassau, Bahamas are all in the mix.

The Legends Bowl and Montgomery are not the only options being batted around. The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette has reported that Officials from the MAC and Sun Belt, including the commissioners, have met with the War Memorial Stadium Commission about the possibility of bringing a bowl featuring the two leagues to Little Rock.

“I feel confident that our number of guaranteed spots is going to expand,” Hartwell said. “Now, exactly how that is going to play out and which bowls will be involved is yet to be seen. Our league is working tirelessly to get us tied in to at least four bowls.”


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