>:(From AJC.com today.
Bowl game no longer Peachy
Chick-fil-A to hold exclusive naming rights starting in '06
By TONY BARNHART
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 12/15/05
Chick-fil-A is eating the Peach.
The fast-food giant, which has been the title sponsor of the Peach Bowl since 1997, will acquire exclusive naming rights to the Atlanta bowl game beginning next season, when it will simply be called the Chick-Fil-A Bowl.
The Peach Bowl board of directors voted Thursday to accept Chick-fil-A's five-year, $22 million bid to rename the game, officials told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The bowl will give up the tradition of the Peach name it has used since 1968, hoping the deal sparks a future run at a spot in college football's Bowl Championship Series.
"This is a great deal for us," said Steve Robinson, senior vice president and chief marketing officer for Atlanta-based Chick-fil-A. "Our goal when we came on board nine years ago was to build our brand both regionally and nationally and to help the bowl grow into one of the premier events in the country. We feel this deal is a big step in that direction."
The previous contract was for three years and about $9 million. The new deal will roll over every year so that the two parties always will have a five-year contract. Included in that $22 million is an annual commitment to ESPN, which broadcasts the game, for the company's first-ever national television advertising buy.
With the commitment from Chick-fil-A, the bowl will be able to increase its per-team payout from the current $2.4 million to more than $3 million per year beginning in 2006. That would give the Chick-fil-A Bowl the second-highest payout among non-BCS bowls. The Capital One Bowl in Orlando is expected to pay each of its teams $5.19 million this season.
"To get our bowl into this position has been our goal since we started these talks with Chick-fil-A," said Gary Stokan, the bowl's president. "Yes, we say goodbye to 38 years of tradition with the Peach Bowl. But we believe — and our board of directors agreed — that there are going to be opportunities out there for us in the future, and this puts us in good position to take advantage of those opportunities."
One of those immediate opportunities is an upgrade in the team selection order. Currently, the Peach gets the No. 3 pick from the ACC and the No. 4 or No. 5 pick from the SEC. The bowl has had discussions with both leagues about moving up in the order.
"Our goal is to improve our current picks from the ACC and SEC and to take the bowl to the next level," said Leeman Bennett, the former Falcons coach and the game's chairman. "Obviously, you can't do that unless you have a very good partner. Today, Chick-fil-A stepped up and showed that it is a great partner."
Of the two leagues, it appears the ACC is closest to climbing on board and awarding the Chick-fil-A its No. 2 pick. Those discussions are ongoing.
"It's a place where fans love to go and players love to play," said ACC commissioner John Swofford, who played in the Peach Bowl for North Carolina in 1970. "We've had some very good discussions. Without question, the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl has a prominent place in our future and possibily more prominent than it has been in the past."
The bowl also is keeping an eye on the BCS, which begins a new four-year deal next season. BCS critics hope that at the end of that deal college football will add a fifth site to create what it calls a "plus-one" model, essentially creating a one-game championship after the four BCS games are played.
This contract will allow the Peach to increase its payout and build its cash reserves in order to be a serious player if that time comes.
"We want to build the bowl to the point where we can walk through a door of opportunity if it ever presents itself," Robinson said. "We may choose not to try for the BCS. But we want the option, should we ever get the chance."
Giving exclusive naming rights to a corporate sponsor is not unusual in the bowl business.The Chick-fil-A will be the eighth bowl to do so. All but four of the 28 bowls — Fort Worth, Motor City, Independence, Rose — have a corporate sponsor in their title.
"[The title] was something we wanted when we came on board in 1997, but we hadn't earned it back then," Robinson said. "Now we feel that we have and we're grateful for the opportunity."
This sucks! Like most Atlantan's who've already logged onto the paper's forum this feels like a blow to the community. At least the moniker Peach Bowl retained a hint of the tradition of college football and the character of the host city. I seriously do not see how Chic-Fil-A is going to make that much more profit out of this, and I've already dropped the company and a bowl committee a line about my displeasure and intention to redirect my business elsewhere. Truett Cathy has done a lot for Georgia, but this stinks coming at a time when Atlanta is making progress as an urban destination coming into its own.
I also love the line about how the Bowl hopes to move into the BCS someday and thinks this will help them do it. Their logic (I'm assuming) is to establish a pedigree of deep sponsorship and the ability to rank with the other big boys. a) Did they fail to notice all the BCS bowls retained their classic namesake? b) Does this meager step make that much of a difference? Seriously, if the Peach were able to inherit the BCS status they don't think someone would've ponied up the extra $ unless they could drop the "Peach" moniker?
I don't care if this does raise the profile of my ACC. It all but pushes me completely over toward the playoff side of things.