Big Apple Bowl Hinges on Stadium Deal

A deal to build a new stadium for the use of both the New York Jets and the New York Giants at the Meadowlands complex in New Jersey has great implications for the proposed Big Apple bowl, which has been strongly backed by the Big East Conference.

The proposed bowl, which would be pushed as a possible addition to the BCS mix and likely hosted by the Big East champion, has been on the back burner since the collapse of proposals for a New York Jets-only domed facility in Manhattan. At least two locations, one within a few blocks of Madison Square Garden and another further up the borough's East Side, fell through over the past year. However, the latest proposal for a new stadium, which would be built as a replacement for the current stadium at the Meadowlands in New Jersey, appears to be heading to fruition. Team officials from both the Jets and the Giants have worked out most of the issues surrounding the sharing of the new facility, and a formal announcement could come soon.

A new stadium in Gotham or its environs is a key factor in plans for the Big Apple bowl, with one feature being an almost absolute requirement in order to go ahead with plans for the new game.

"The potential for the Big Apple Bowl is still viable, but it depends on the new stadium having a dome," said Associate Big East Commissioner Nick Carparelli, who oversees football matters for the conference. "A bowl in New York City is very attractive with a domed stadium. Without one, the chances for the game are much less."

No formal design plans for the proposed new Meadowlands stadium are available yet, but some rough guidelines, including seating capacity (77,000) and facilities have been worked out in principle. The issue of a dome was not discussed, but it's the one thing that the Big East, which would hope to host the bowl in January, would almost certainly have to have in order to make the bowl game an attractive destination, especially with the likelihood of bad weather during bowl season. Having a dome on the stadium would certainly increase costs, thus it's not a foregone conclusion that the new facility will include either a permanent or retractable cover. However, Big East officials are obviously hoping for a dome in order to make their bowl game a viable option.

"Clearly, our focus is on the proposed Giants/Jets stadium at this time," Carparelli confirmed. "There are no other [professional] domed stadiums in the northeast, so this stadium would be the most attractive option for hosting the bowl."

The timing for the new stadium and a new proposed bowl fall neatly into place with the renegotiation of existing bowl agreements. The current contracts with existing bowls expires after the completion of the 2009 season, at which time there is expected to be some shuffling among conferences and their bowl affiliations. Were the Big Apple bowl be ready to enter the mix, it would come at the most opportune time for forging new agreements between the conferences and the bowls.

While that process sounds like it is a long way off, Carparelli notes that the process of extending new deals and executing new contracts will actually begin much sooner.

"We will really start negotiating a year to 18 months before the deals expire," he noted of the involved process. "So, we will likely begin doing that after the season next year. We'll be looking at the entire bowl lineup for the next four year cycle."

Carparelli is also in favor of a move being spearheaded by Gator Bowl Executive Director Rick Catlett to form a coalition of bowls just under the BCS level. That group, which would include the Gator, the Cotton, and two or three other bowls (the Sun, Capital One and the Outback are possible candidates) would put together games from a group of eligible teams.

"I hope [that works out]," Carparelli said. "It would give the bowls and the conferences more flexibility in making sensible matchups, and it would keep the same teams from going to the same bowls, like West Virginia has done recently."

Carparelli sees the beginnings of such coalitions in the current hybrid bowl-conference agreements, such as that currently employed by the Sun and Gator Bowls, which currently have the Big East as a participant in two out of four years.

"It's tough to predict, but I do think that's possibly the wave of the future for many conferences, and not just the Big East. It just gives more flexibility in the selection process."

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