The Pitt community expressed initial displeasure with the fact its football team was relegated to a "Tier 2" bowl game after its winningest season in five years. But the action taken did not match up with the words.
In a rare instance, doing otherwise than what was said proved beneficial (and profitable).
Pitt faithful showed out in full-force for the Panthers 44-28 loss to No. 21 Navy in the Military Bowl Dec. 28. As a result, the Military Bowl generated nearly $17 million in revenue as told by the economic impact release from the bowl Wednesday.
Although Navy played the game at its home stadium in Annapolis, Md., bowl President and Executive Director Steve Beck credited Pitt for its role in the economically-successful event.
"Even with Navy participating in the game and a significant number of local attendees, our 2015 impact nearly matches the $17 million result from last year," Beck said in a release. "This can be attributed in large measure to the outstanding job Pitt did in mobilizing its fan base."
A sellout crowd of 36,352 fans watched the game at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, the largest attendance for a bowl at that location and the second-largest crowd in the game's eight-year history. It was reported Pitt's athletic department sold out of its 8,000-ticket allotment for the game.
According to a report prepared by Visit Annapolis and Anne Arundel Country, attendees of the Military Bowl accounted for $4.1 million in lodging, $3.3 million on retail, $3.1 million on food and beverage and $2.6 million in transportation revenues from Dec. 26-28. The event also supported nearly 8,000 jobs in the region.
VAAAC President and CEO Connie Del Signore also noted her pleasure that flights from Pittsburgh to Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport were sold out the day before the game.
VAAAC reports the bowl game has generated more than $47 million since it moved to Annapolis in 2013.