Aresco: New bowl at Marlins Park 'very likely'
The American Athletic Conference is working on a new lineup of bowl contracts starting with the 2014 football season, and commissioner Mike Aresco said Tuesday that he anticipates contracts for seven teams, including a new bowl game at Marlins Park in Miami.
"We're moving pretty steadily on that, and we think it's very likely to happen for Miami," said Aresco, who said he has talked with the Pac-12 and Big Ten conferences about lining up a team on the other half of the new game. "It's something we really are excited about. We feel it's workable and would be good for our conference. It's exactly the kind of thing we need to do."
The Miami game would not likely be a spot for the American champion, should that team not land a spot in a top-six bowl in the new format -- one spot will go to the highest ranked champion from the American, Mountain West, MAC, Conference USA and Sun Belt conferences. That spot could be in Memphis, where C-USA's champion has played in the current bowl cycle.
"It's really the geographic center of our conference. It makes a lot of sense from a lot of different perspectives," said Aresco, whose initial American men's basketball tournament will be at FedEx Forum in Memphis in March.
Other bowls in the future lineup for the American are the Military Bowl in Annapolis, which should be announced shortly with an ACC opponent. Aresco said discussions with several ESPN-produced bowl games are ongoing, including continued relationships with the Beef O'Brady's Bowl in St. Petersburg (with three ACC opponents in a six-year cycle) and the BBVA Compass Bowl in Birmingham (likely against an SEC opponent), which had existing deals with the Big East. Those talks also include the Hawaii Bowl and two ESPN-produced bowls in Texas, the Armed Forces Bowl (in Fort Worth) and Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas (in Houston). The league is also talking with the New Orleans Bowl, where it has a future member, Tulane, joining next season.
The Marlins have expressed their interest in hosting a bowl game at their one-year-old stadium, and the Big East has previously lined up bowl games in baseball stadiums in St. Petersburg, New York and Toronto; the Pinstripe Bowl won't be affiliated with the American in the new cycle and the International Bowl hasn't been played since USF won there after the 2009 season.
Aresco said he's hopeful of being able to announce at least part of the American's new bowl lineup at the end of the month when the league hosts its preseason media gathering in Newport, Rhode Island.