By Joe Sweeney
The real hell of being both a small business owner and a college football fanatic—I use that word deliberately; I’m not just a fan—is that there’s not nearly enough time you can carve away from work demands to fully enjoy the bounty of Bowl Season.
Yes, I know Christmas and New Year’s were in the mix there somewhere, but for nearly four full weeks from mid-December through the national championship game, I’m all about college football. Some of the inter-conference match-ups we don’t get to see through the regular season are truly fascinating.
It’s like those first 48 hours of the NCAA Tournament, in slow motion.
None of that game-a-day smorgasbord would be possible today, of course, without the explosion in bowl games we’ve seen emerge in recent years. Those of us old enough to remember when Jan. 1 meant the Orange, Cotton, Sugar and Rose Bowls—and darn little else—can only marvel at what we see today. A full 13 of the 30 non-BCS bowl games didn’t even exist before 2000.
Why Don’t We Do That?
Seeing bowls set in some places that aren’t exactly the Sun Belt—Yankee Stadium, for goodness sakes—got me to thinking: Why isn’t Kansas City in on this mix? We’ve got one of the premier football venues in the country with the renovations at Arrowhead Stadium, KC offers glittering assets perfect for hosting tens of thousands of visitors to the Country Club Plaza and the Power & Light District, and while a new Downtown convention hotel could help accommodate out-of-state fans, there’s certainly no shortage of hotel rooms throughout the region.
We even have some high-powered corporate entities here that could step up to affix their name as a sponsor to a KC Bowl, as has been done with virtually every other game in the post-season lineup. Hallmark Cards, for example, would make a terrific marquis sponsor, of say, the Spirit of Kansas City Bowl.
Logistically, our centrality makes total sense—not only is Kansas City in the center of the country, we’re also uniquely positioned at the nexus of three of the biggest and most competitive football conferences in the land: the Big XII, the Big 10 and the SEC.
Where There’s a Will
Challenges? Sure, I recognize them. Kansas City would have its work cut out getting approval from the NCAA at a time when the other bowls are challenged to produce 70 deserving teams (records no worse than 6-6) from the schools that play Division I football. (Incidentally, how does that even work? In a field of 120 football programs, mathematical probability seems to suggest no more than 60 candidates in a given year.)
As far as weather goes, a bowl in early or mid-December could set the stage for the rest of the Bowl Season, and the weather is at least as tolerable here at that time of year as it is in many other markets, including New York. Remember the two feet of snow that had to be bulldozed off the Yankee Stadium turf, and the mountains of it piled up over the seats, before K-State played in the Pinstripe Bowl last year? Remember, too, the Chiefs play each year deep into December, and periodically beyond, when fortunate enough to earn a seat in the playoffs.
Conference tie-ins, too, could pose a challenge; the Southeastern and Atlantic Coast conferences are already sucking up a lot of the oxygen with nine bowl affiliations each, while the Big XII, Big 10, Pac-12 account for 23 more—nearly two-thirds of their teams, right there.
Still, this might be an opportunity for the city to rebuild its relationship with the Big XII. Kansas City, not Columbia or St. Louis, is the one being hurt by Missouri’s move to the SEC, and we’re too much a part of the proud history of the Big XII and its predecessor to allow the folks at conference headquarters in Dallas to cut us out of their picture.
Another reason I like hosting a college bowl game here is that it would enable Kansas City the chance to showcase our community and to purposely share our midwestern hospitality: We can do this bigger, better and bolder than most cities. And while we likely wouldn’t be bumping the Rose or Fiesta Bowls from the broadcast schedule, it would give us a great opportunity to stand out and showcase the best of what this great city has to offer, while infusing solid economic investment.
As we bring everything up to date in Kansas City for Major League Baseball’s All-Star game in early July, why not lay the groundwork for hosting our own bowl? When the national stage is neatly set in mid-summer, all eyes will be on Kansas City for the better part of a week. What better time to announce our intention for something bold. Carpe diem, Kansas City!
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