EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – Game on.
With the Pac-12 announcing on Thursday it will be resuming football this fall, the Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl has both its contracted partners back in play. As a result, the second-oldest bowl game in the country will be played as scheduled on Dec. 31 at 12 p.m.
The Sun Bowl has been played every season since 1935.
Last month, Sun Bowl Association executive director, Bernie Olivas, did not have much optimism on the viability of the game taking place in 2020 with Pac-12 pushing their football season to the spring.
“As of right now, I can’t see how it can be played if one of our conferences isn’t even going to be playing in December. Yeah, I think our December game is out,” said Olivas back on Aug. 11.
What a difference a month makes. At one point, just 77 football subdivision (FBS) teams were scheduled to play in the fall. Following the Pac-12, Mountain West, and the MAC’s announcement on Friday to resume football immediately, 127 of the 130 FBS teams will take the field in 2020.
“Both our contracted conferences are playing football this fall and we’ll have a game scheduled for Dec. 31 at noon,” said Olivas. “We’ve exchanged some e-mails and text messages with the ACC and we’ll have a meeting the our Pac-12 partners next week. The next step is figuring out how the selection process is going to happen.”
Much like everything we’ve seen in 2020, this year’s edition of the Sun Bowl will look and feel much different. Olivas acknowledged the week’s festivities leading up to the game will likely be scaled back and attendance itself will be limited in the iconic Sun Bowl Stadium.
“Our governor is still at 50% capacity of stadiums, which is really a lot less than that if you’re going to social distance people,” said Olivas. “If you have a 50,000 capacity stadium, 50% is 25,000, but that’s every other seat. You can’t fill every other seat and have six feet between people. The number will be a lot less than that.”
The Sun Bowl could very well go with UTEP’s attendance model, which is 18% capacity, roughly 8,600 fans.
It might not be exactly what we are used to seeing at the Sun Bowl, but a game is better than no game in the eyes of the Sun Bowl Association, especially with the All-America Golf Classic and the Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational in limbo.