In 1997, when the Arizona-based Copper Bowl was rechristened the “Insight.com Bowl”—and billed as “the first bowl game to be sponsored by an electronic commerce Web site”—it touched a nerve. Sports columnists called the tech suffix “ridiculous.” To echo one cantankerous newspaper writer: “What next? A flag game matching sororities, sponsored by AirTouch?”
Be careful what you wish for. More than a decade later, the Peach Bowl and the Citrus Bowl have been replaced by the Chick-fil-A Bowl and the Capital One Bowl (COF), respectively. The Humanitarian Bowl is no more—it’s now the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. Teams from the Big East and Conference USA conferences duke it out in the Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl, located in St. Petersburg, Fla. Speaking of which, the Gator Bowl, hosted every year in Jacksonville, Fla., is now the Taxslayer.com Gator Bowl. And starting this year, the once controversial Insight Bowl (the “.com” was dropped in 2002 after the bubble burst) will be known as the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl (BWLD), named after the Minneapolis-based chain of sports bars.
Some fear the bowl market is getting saturated. “I understand the financial considerations of getting those [sponsorship] checks,” says Kevin Adler, president of Engage Marketing. “But I think some of these bowls devalue themselves with the type of brands they associate with.”