Gildan Bowl May Not Mean Big Bucks for Albuquerque
Gildan Bowl execs and Albuquerque’s chamber of commerce have to feel a tad … well, freaked out!
Bowl games are all about bringing out-of-town money to one’s city. It’s a tourism thing. That’s why you host bowl games. But Saturday’s annual bowl game in the Duke City pits a nearby school (UTEP) that has its fan base going to its school’s basketball game the night before against a university from a little city (Utah State) that’s barely half the size of Las Cruces.
UTEP vs. Utah State doesn’t look like a boom for the Gildan Bowl or Albuquerque’s economy. UTEP already has a sold-out home basketball game Friday night – the night before - against perennial national power Arizona. So far Arizona is ranked No. 3 in the nation. Those Wildcats will be the highest-ranked team ever to play UTEP in El Paso. And it’s a 9 p.m. tipoff in The Don. That means 12,000 Miner fans will be at a late-night home basketball game. How many will go home at nearly midnight then drive three-plus hours to Albuquerque in time for a 12:20 kickoff – especially when they can watch the game on ESPN?
Utah State is the pride of Logan, but not of the Beehive State. It’s a far-north city (might as well be in the woods of Idaho) of fewer than 50,000 people. Logan, Utah, is in a state that has Pac-12 University of Utah and perhaps the more-popular BYU. How many Utah out-of-towners will stay in hotels, eat in Albuquerque restaurants and go to the Gildan Bowl?
What about Albuquerque fans going to their Gildan Bowl? Those folks don’t even back their hometown University of New Mexico Lobos with big attendance figures? So how many Duke City fans will pay to see this game?
Well, this is a bad situation for any bowl. It’s certainly bad luck for the Gildan people. All bowls have good intentions to boost their city’s economic success.