- The Washington Times - Friday, April 18, 2008

The NCAA will decide in the next two weeks on the District’s bid to become the host of a new college bowl game, to be played on Dec. 20 at either Nationals Park or RFK Stadium.

Officials from the Washington, D.C. Bowl Committee have submitted a formal proposal for the new Congressional Bowl, which potentially would involve Navy and a team from the ACC or Mid-American Conference. The committee will make a 30-minute presentation to the NCAA on April 30 in Weston, Fla., and is expected to receive a response by the next day, according to committee co-founder Sean Metcalf.

We see D.C. as a sports town, and it’s our job to convey the message that we have more than federal buildings and the president, that we have people that live here, there’s an economy here, some life here, Metcalf said. This would be a boon to the city.

The bowl committee has a signed contract with Navy for 2008. A bowl played in the District would be a change from recent postseason appearances for the academy in which the Midshipmen traveled to California three times in a four-year span. Navy played in the Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego in 2007 and 2005 and the Emerald Bowl in San Francisco in 2004. The team played in the Meineke Car Care Bowl in Charlotte in 2006.

We’re certainly excited about the possibility, Navy deputy athletic director Eric Ruden said. We think it’d be a great venue and a great town for a game.

Metcalf said he hopes to formalize an agreement with the ACC in a matter of days; under the ACC deal, the conference would send its ninth-best team to the bowl. If the ACC does not have nine teams that qualify, the bowl would include a team from the MAC. Contract discussions with the MAC are still ongoing. Bowl organizers are also in talks with Air Force and have a deal in place with Army for 2009.

In order to receive a bowl invitation, a team must finish the regular season with at least six wins.

For the NCAA to grant approval for the Congressional Bowl, the NCAA first must decide whether it wants to add a new bowl at all. Last year, there were 31 bowls, plus the national championship game.

In its 29-page proposal to the NCAA, the committee included letters of support from the Greater Washington Sports Alliance, the D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission and several other sports and tourism groups in the District. The bowl committee also presented proof of an agreement with ESPN to televise the event, plus estimates of its potential economic impact.

The bowl committee has sought to reserve Dec. 20 at both Nationals Park and RFK Stadium, and a final decision on location will be based on a number of factors, including what works best economically. Though RFK Stadium is better suited for football, holding the game at a baseball facility like Nationals Park would not be unprecedented. AT&T; Park, home to Major League Baseball’s San Francisco Giants, has held the Emerald Bowl since 2002, and the Insight Bowl, now played at Sun Devil Stadium, formerly was played at the Arizona Diamondbacks’ Chase Field.

If the game is played at Nationals Park, plans would call for one end zone to be placed in left-center field and another to the right of home plate. The configuration could require the benches of both teams to be located on the same sideline, separated by the 50-yard line.

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