San Diego got an early Christmas present last week when the organizers of the Pacific Life Holiday Bowl received approval to host a second college football bowl game.
The Poinsettia Bowl on Dec. 22, a week before the Dec. 29 Holiday Bowl, was approved by the licensing subcommittee of the National Collegiate Athletic Committee at a meeting April 20 in Scottsdale, Ariz.
"This is going to be a big event for San Diego. We're now looking forward to two games here around Christmas," said Bruce Binkowski, the executive director of the Pacific Life Holiday Bowl, after the NCAA group voted to sanction the game.
The event is to be organized and operated by the San Diego Bowl Game Association, the same entity that has operated the Holiday Bowl at Qualcomm Stadium since its inception in 1978.
The game will feature a team from the Mountain West Conference and another at-large university. In its presentation before the NCAA subcommittee, Binkowski said he had support letters from the Western Athletic Conference, Conference USA, and the U.S. Naval Academy, as well as the Mountain West, which counts San Diego State University as a member.
The initial game should draw between 40,000 to 45,000 fans and be a shot in the arm to the local hotel and tourism industry during one of the slowest times of the year, Binkowski said.
The guaranteed payout for each team in the Poinsettia Bowl will be $750,000. Last year, each Holiday Bowl participant received $2 million, Binkowski said.
He downplayed any possible negative impact by having two bowl games so close together.
"We have a loyal base of ticket holders who number about 35,000, and we've had sellouts because we have great matchups between the Pacific-10 and Big 12 conferences," he said. "I don't think this will have a negative effect on the Holiday Bowl. If you're a football fan, you're going to come."
The Holiday Bowl, held at Qualcomm Stadium since 1978 in late December, has been one of the more successful postseason games.
Last year, the event generated $38.2 million in direct and indirect economic impact to the local area, according to a commissioned study.
Binkowski said work to get a second bowl game for San Diego began last summer with a breakfast meeting he had with then-San Diego State Athletic Director Mike Bohn.
The event hasn't named a title sponsor yet but the name of the local company along with the TV network that will broadcast the game will be announced at a news conference scheduled for April 27.