Tucson loses Insight.com Bowl to Phoenix
Game's movement unlikely to hurt UA, Livengood says
UA Athletic Director Jim Livengood said the active winter season of Wildcat sports may have forced Tucson's bowl game out of town.
Citing poor ticket sales and waning public interest, the organizers of Tucson's Insight.com Bowl have decided to move the annual football game to Phoenix's Bank One Ballpark.
"The only good year that the game had recently was the season when (Arizona) played," UA Athletic Director Jim Livengood said. "I think it's hard for other people to get excited (in December) because there are so many other things going on. Between UA basketball and the (Wildcat football) team possibly playing in a game of their own, it's a tough draw."
The next game, scheduled for Dec. 28, will mark the first football game at the two-year-old home of baseball's Arizona Diamondbacks.
Shawn Shoefler, Fiesta Bowl director of public relations, said the decision to move was strictly financial.
"There was nothing wrong with the city or the university," Shoefler said. "It's just that the lure of a post-season collegiate bowl game just didn't seem to be a top priority for the people of Tucson."
The game, which featured the University of Colorado and Boston College last Dec. 31, brought anywhere from $10 to $14 million annually into the Tucson economy since 1989, according to organizers.
More importantly, the Insight.com Bowl was unable to draw many Tucsonans to the game, Shoefler said.
"We weren't getting the results we were looking for," Shoefler said. "We felt that we had matchups that were attractive to the people of Tucson. Fans could have gotten into those games, but they didn't."
The move ends a decade-long relationship between Tucson and the game, which began as the Copper Bowl.
Although the game nearly sold out in 1993 and 1997, attendance has dropped substantially in recent years. Last year's game, a 62-28 victory by Colorado, drew just 35,762 spectators to the 56,200-capacity Arizona Stadium.
Bowl organizers said they are excited about the change of venue. Bank One Ballpark, currently a baseball-only stadium, will likely draw thousands of curious locals for its first football game.
"There will definitely be an air of novelty," Shoefler said. "That was one of the main reasons for moving."
The football field will be placed along the third base line, giving fans a closer view of the gridiron game.
"It's a unique opportunity to play in Bank One Ballpark," Shoefler said. "It's a premium facility. There will be some fantastic seating, especially in the upper deck. The closeness to the action will resemble an Arena League game."
Livengood said losing the bowl game may prove to be a blessing in disguise for some UA employees who work the games.
"Although the bowl was very important to Tucson and Pima Country, it didn't have a huge effect on the university," he said. "Although my disappointment has to do with losing the game, it should give a lot of our support staff a time to recuperate."
Whether Tucson will host another bowl game in the future is still up in the air, Livengood said.
"That remains to be seen," he added. "I haven't heard any indication of it."
The bowl's organizers said Tucson may be a fine place for football - just not the Insight.com Bowl.
"Tucson's a great location," Shoefler said. "Every year, the teams, players, coaches and fans loved the city. They had a great time here."