Introducing the Valley of the Sun Bowl

BY foxsports • July 12, 2012

The game formerly known as the Insight Bowl has a new, geographically
appropriate name: Valley of the Sun Bowl.

While the
Fiesta Bowl -- which owns and operates its sister bowl -- has made no
official announcement of a name change, a
schedule
released by the Football Bowl Association
with a list of all 35 approved bowl games includes "Valley of the Sun
Bowl" on Dec. 29 at Sun Devil Stadium. In addition, a brief search of
the Fiesta Bowl's website turns up the
option to buy tickets
for the "2012 Valley of the
Sun Bowl." It appears to be unofficially
official.

The obvious observation: There's no title
sponsor, which makes the Valley of the Sun Bowl one of just three bowls
(along with the Rose and the Gator) to not include a sponsor as part of
the name, and other two are officially recognized as being "presented
by" a sponsor. The Valley of the Sun Bowl does not (yet) have that
moniker.

Insight Enterprises, headquartered in Tempe,
had sponsored the game since 1997 but chose not to renew its contract,
nor did it ever specify the amount of its deal with the bowl game. For
reference, most recent reports on mid-tier bowl-sponsorship deals put
the per-year cost at around $500,000.

It was
announced last month that the Valley of the Sun Bowl Foundation -- a
nonprofit formed to manage the newly named bowl -- had hired Front Row
Marketing to attempt to secure a new sponsorship deal; that's presumably
still being sought, which could explain the lack of an official
announcement of a name change. Considering that the Insight Bowl has
only
been turning a profit
since 2006 after having lost
money for the previous eight years, the potential loss of around half a
million dollars a year would be significant in the bowl's quest to stay
relevant -- and perhaps stay alive.

Last year's game
paid out a combined $6.65 million to the two affiliated conferences to
get the third pick from the Big 12 and fourth pick from the Big Ten, a
huge bump from the previous $2.6 million payout to get the sixth-place
teams from each conference. It's questionable if that payout could
continue in the long term without a title sponsor and perhaps without
television revenue. The new Champions Bowl (owned by the SEC and the Big 12)
and the Orange Bowl (via a contract with the ACC) have had their TV
rights assumed by the partnering conferences, a trend that shifts
financial gain toward the conferences/schools and away from the bowls.
How that will affect mid-tier games like the Valley of the Sun Bowl
remains to be seen.

There's also the added variable
of the Fiesta Bowl's role in college football's new four-team playoff,
which will debut after the 2014 season. Based on some estimates of $500
million a year in TV revenue to be divvied up among the bowls and
participating conferences, the Fiesta Bowl -- assuming it has a spot in
the playoff rotation -- would have plenty of money left over to continue
running a secondary bowl game if it so chooses. That's a ways in the
distance, though.

In the short term, the Valley of
the Sun Bowl will continue its relationship with the Big Ten and Big 12,
with this year's game sitting in the same spot in the pecking order as
last year's. And if you're looking for a ridiculously early projection,
College
Football News
has you covered: Kansas State vs.
Illinois.


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