The Washington Times - November 6, 2008, 03:51PM

Officials with the new EagleBank Bowl now have about six weeks to sell tickets and sponsorships tied to the inaugural game at RFK Stadium, and Navy’s win to become bowl-eligible over the weekend should help.

Execs from the D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission, which is working with the D.C. Bowl Committee on pulling off the event, said Navy has an allotment of 15,000 tickets and could ask for at least 10,000 more. That could mean 25,000 fans from Navy alone, though it will be another month before the Midshipmen find out their opponent.

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In any case, let’s assume Navy fills its first 15,000. From there, it’s not too tough to predict a crowd of around 30,000 if the fans of Navy’s opponent travels half-decently and you sell 5,000 tickets from unaffiliated football fans in the area. Once you hit 30,000, you’re talking about crowds comparable to the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl, which Navy played in last year.

“The biggest thing is getting the word out,” sports commission CEO Erik Moses told board members Wednesday. “It’s hard to sell tickets when you don’t know who’s playing.”

A bigger worry is sponsorship sales. Aside from EagleBank, the bowl has announced just one other major sponsor in Ameritel. And with the economy the way it is, nailing down corporate partners may be easier said than done.

“In all seriousness, sponsorship is a concern,” Moses said. “We got a late start on this thing.”

Officials said the pace should pick up now that Navy has qualified, suggesting that local defense contractors might pitch in with some dollars. There will be even greater interest if it appears that a team with a local following willqualify in the ACC 9th spot.

Moses mentioned Maryland off-hand, but it appears that Virginia or Virginia Tech would be more likely if you’re eyeing local teams. But my hard-working colleague Patrick Stevens has been tracking the EagleBank Bowl tie-ins for weeks, and he predicts either Boston College or Duke at this point.

- Tim Lemke