District officials Wednesday revealed details of the city’s first bowl game, including a title sponsorship with Bethesda-based EagleBank.
The EagleBank Bowl will be held at RFK Stadium on Dec. 20 at 11 a.m. and is tentatively scheduled to feature Navy against the ninth-place team from the ACC. It will be the first bowl game of college football’s postseason and the highest-profile football game played at RFK since the Redskins exited for Maryland in 1996.
For EagleBank, the bowl is expected to offer a big profile boost as the company seeks to gain customers after a merger with Fidelity & Trust Financial Corporation.
“We’ve merged, and this is something that’s going to set us apart and make us unique,” EagleBank vice chairman Robert Pincus said. “We’re not advertising our interest rate in the newspaper for a certificate of deposit. We are bringing entertainment and charitable activities to the city and the region.”
Pincus and bowl officials declined to offer financial details of the sponsorship but said it was a four-year agreement that includes an option year giving EagleBank the right of first refusal. Other sponsors of the event include Marriott and Navy Federal Credit Union.
Pincus, one of the most prominent bankers in the D.C. area, has some experience in sponsoring major sporting events in the city. As CEO of Franklin National Bank in 1995, he helped form the Franklin National Bank Classic basketball tournament, later renamed the BB&T Classic.
District officials used the bowl announcement to tout the city as an emerging sports town.
“We have very quietly become a sports leader in this nation,” said D.C. council chairman Vincent Gray, who referred to the city as a “sports mecca.”
“The Nationals have come back to the District of Columbia and will be a force. We have the Wizards, we have the Mystics and now we’re going to add a university level bowl game here.”
The bowl committee had been in discussions to hold the game at Nationals Park, but it was unable to strike a deal with the Nationals to allow for use of the playing field. Committee members stressed, however, that RFK Stadium was not necessarily viewed as the “backup” site, noting that the 47-year-old stadium was built for football and was home to the Redskins from 1961 to 1996. The last football game played at RFK was on Nov. 10, 2001, between Frostburg State and Salisbury.
Officials said the event is expected to raise tens of thousands of dollars for various charities, including Positive Choices, a nonprofit group that offers programs for inner-city youth; and the Wounded EOD Warrior Project, a charity benefiting wounded soldiers and their families.
Tickets for the bowl game already are on sale and range in price from $45 to $135.
If Navy or the ninth-place ACC team does not win the required six games to become bowl-eligible, the committee likely would select from an at-large pool that would include teams from the MAC, Big Ten, Big East and Conference USA.
Navy has played in bowl games in each of the last five years, most recently at the Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego. The EagleBank bowl will offer a much easier trip for fans in Annapolis, a fact that was not lost on Navy athletic officials.
“My vision on that day, December 20, about 8 o’clock in the morning, there’s a 25-mile traffic jam out Route 50 with all of our fans working their way into Washington,” Navy athletic director Chet Gladchuk said.