Yankee Stadium to host bowl game

Yankee Stadium to host bowl game

NEW YORK - Forty-seven years after Yankee Stadium last hosted a bowl game, major college football is coming back to the Bronx.

On Wednesday, the Yankees announced a deal with the Big East and Big 12 conferences to host a bowl game at Yankee Stadium beginning in December 2010. Although the game does not have an official name yet, it's already being colloquially referred to as the "Yankee Bowl." The inaugural game, to be played sometime between Christmas and New Year's Day in 2010, will pit the fourth-place finisher from the Big East against the No. 7 team from the Big 12.

"Nobody stages big events like the Big Apple. We've got the experience, we've got the resources, and we've got the spirit," New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said. "It's a win for the fans of both teams playing, and it's a win for New York."

The game will bring major college football back to New York City for the first time since the old Yankee Stadium across the street hosted the Gotham Bowl in 1962. That game featured current Big 12 member Nebraska defeating one-time Big East team Miami, 36-34.

The entire northeast has not hosted a major bowl game since 1981, the last year the Garden State Bowl was played at the Meadowlands. The potential for poor weather, however, isn't a concern for anyone involved.

"I've played games in snow and ice; it's fun," said Dan Beebe, commissioner of the Big 12. "Bring on the snow, bring on the ice. I don't care. The Big 12 is excited to come here. We'll play in whatever conditions. We'll put ice skates on instead of cleats."

"I've always thought what's strange is football in warm weather," Bloomberg added. "This is a sport where you have to go out and bundle up. That's part of the fun of it."

Bloomberg hopes the game will become another major holiday event in a city full of them. Yankees President Randy Levine said the game has the potential to become affiliated with New Year's Eve at Times Square in the same way the Rose Bowl is connected to New Year's Day and the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, Calif.

Bloomberg estimated that the game could bring 40,000 visitors and roughly $47 million to the city.

Logistically, the football field will spread from behind home plate straight out toward center field. That setup will afford excellent sightlines from almost all of Yankee Stadium's seats, which were designed to face the middle of the field, according to Yankees Chief Operating Officer Lonn Trost.

Trost added that the stadium was built with possible football games in mind and that the organization cherishes such opportunities to open Yankee Stadium's doors in the offseason.

"When you build a stadium such as this one, keeping it open for 81 days in the regular season and 11 possible days in the postseason really isn't enough. In today's world, you need to keep this venue open all the time," Trost said. "We made a special effort to winterize this entire building. This building works for baseball, it works for football. It's been designed for both."

A matchup between the Big East and Big 12 certainly has its draws. The conferences are not aligned in any other bowl contest, with their last postseason meeting occurring after the 2007 season, when West Virginia defeated Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl.

"The Big East has long prided itself on having made it in New York City," said Big East Commissioner John Marinatto, alluding to the Big East men's basketball championship at Madison Square Garden. "Now we're back for football in perhaps the most famous stadium in the world."

The game provides the Big 12, whose easternmost teams are Iowa State and Missouri, the chance to bring student-athletes to New York.

The announcement comes two months after the Yankees agreed to host a November 20, 2010, regular-season meeting between Army and Notre Dame at Yankee Stadium. Notre Dame could find itself back in New York for the "Yankee Bowl" a little over a month later if the Big 12 does not have enough bowl-eligible teams and the Fighting Irish are not invited to the Bowl Championship Series.

The Big East's Marinatto summed it up best, though. "Big East, Big 12, Big Apple," he said. "Big time."

Tim Britton is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.