MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Teams from the Sun Belt and Mid-American Conference will meet in a new bowl game in Alabama’s state capital, and both leagues are still hoping to reach another postseason deal.
ESPN announced its latest postseason game, the Camellia Bowl, today at Montgomery’s City Hall. It will debut in December 2014 under a six-year contract.
The game will be held at recently renovated 25,000-seat Cramton Bowl, formerly host to the Blue-Gray game, before Christmas day.
The two leagues might not be done in finding new bowl deals.
Sun Belt Commissioner Karl Benson said his conference is hoping to sign a contract for a fourth game before the current bowl cycle ends, possibly in Little Rock, Ark., or Orlando.
The league, which is undergoing another membership makeover in the next two seasons, sent Louisiana-Monroe into the Independence Bowl last season when that game didn’t have a second eligible team with its contracted conference.
“Six years ago, when it started, the Sun Belt was a fledgling conference,” Benson said. “We had two guaranteed (bowls). We quickly outgrew those two. I think four is the right number.
“There’s probably another six-month window that’s still available to secure another bowl game before the 2014 season. We have not ruled out any of these potential bowl sites.”
MAC Commissioner Jon Steinbrecher expects to add a fifth bowl, but declined to mention specific cities.
“It’s part of the package we were putting together and we’re pleased with it,” Steinbrecher said. “I am really, really excited about the possibilities here.”
The MAC had a record seven bowl-eligible teams last season and has averaged nearly six over the past five years. Temple went 8-4 in 2010 and was shut out of the postseason.
The MAC already had deals to send teams to the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl in Detroit, the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl in Boise and GoDaddy Bowl in Mobile, Ala., plus status as a backup option for some of the ESPN-owned games.
The Sun Belt has deals with the New Orleans Bowl and GoDaddy.
The Sun Belt, which is undergoing another membership makeover in the next two seasons, sent Louisiana-Monroe into the Independence Bowl last season when that game didn’t have a second eligible team with its contracted conference.
The six-year deal includes a $225,000 annual sponsorship from Montgomery, which will receive two or three TV ads per game, Mayor Todd Strange said.
Former Troy athletic director Johnny Williams will serve as executive director. He also ran the Raycom All-Star Classic, a game for NFL hopefuls that was played for the first time in January.