NEW YORK -- The Steinbrenner family has always had ties to the Big Ten. George Steinbrenner met his wife, Elizabeth Joan Zieg, while they both attended Ohio State, and he later coached football at Northwestern and Purdue in the late 1950s.
So with the New Era Pinstripe Bowl's agreement with the Big 12 and Big East set to expire after the 2013 season, the Yankees decided to join forces with a historic football conference that runs in the family.
On Monday, Yankees managing partner Hal Steinbrenner and Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany announced an eight-year partnership between the conference and the New Era Pinstripe Bowl, a college football bowl game played at Yankee Stadium in December.
"This is a bowl game that has grown in its scope and popularity since the beginning, and it's something we're very, very proud of," Steinbrenner said. "Having the Big Ten involved will take it to even new heights."
The bowl game was first played in 2010, when Syracuse defeated Kansas State, 36-34. Rutgers beat Iowa State, 27-13, in 2011, and Syracuse won it for a second time this past December, routing West Virginia, 38-14.
The attendance for the games has risen for all three games, too, going from 38,274 in 2010 to a record 41,203 last season.
"The skeptics were out in force when we first announced doing a football game in New York at the end of December," Steinbrenner said. "But we're very pleased with how it's developed over the past three or four years."
Yankees president Randy Levine said the skeptics were concerned the game wouldn't be a good idea because of New York's harsh weather during the winter. But given the city's history, Levine said there's no better place to have a football game in December.
"There's no place, during the holiday season, like New York City," Levine said. "This is the only city, during that time, that they make movies about and write songs about during that time of the year. … The Boss is smiling tonight. He really is."
For the Big Ten, the move represents another step toward the conference gaining a bigger presence on the East Coast. Maryland and Rutgers are slated to join the conference in 2014, and the Pinstripe Bowl has already established itself as one of the highest-rated pre-New Year's Day bowl games in the country.
"When we began planning, we had an objective to land in New York," Delaney said. "Not only is New York the financial and sports capital of the country; it is also the place you need to be if you want to plan a national slate of bowl games."
For Yankees fans, it means they can watch look forward to watching football in Yankee Stadium for years to come.
"College football was a big part of the old stadium, pre-renovation. There were a lot of games there, and it was important for us to bring it back," Steinbrenner said. "And we got it back in a big way."
Paul Casella and Jordan Bastian are reporters for MLB.com. Josh Vitale is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less