St. Pete Bowl moving to prime time, ESPN
Good news for the St. Petersburg Bowl in its second season, as the game at Tropicana Field will have a prime-time kickoff and ESPN audience on the opening day of bowl season in 2009.
ESPN Regional is expected to announce Friday that the bowl, which had a 4:30 p.m. kickoff on ESPN2 in its debut, will play at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 19, 2009, with a broadcast on ESPN.
The inaugural St. Pete Bowl saw nearby USF beat Memphis 41-14, with quarterback Matt Grothe throwing for 236 yards and three touchdowns in the Bulls' second-ever bowl victory. Here's a link to ESPN.com's recap, which includes video highlights from the win.
The bowl remains in search of a title sponsor for its second season, as magicJack, last year's sponsor, is now more than two months past a January 31 deadline for renewing its sponsorship. The company has maintained that it is still in the process of deciding about renewal, but the bowl is pitching the title sponsorship to other companies, both nationally and locally.
The prime-time slot opened up after the Las Vegas Bowl, which played in St. Pete's new slot, moved its date to a weekday afternoon kickoff on ESPN on Dec. 22, 2009. The bowl is now known as the Maaco Bowl Las Vegas. The other two early opening-day bowl games from 2008, the New Mexico Bowl and the EagleBank Bowl, have not announced dates or times for their 2009 games.