Music City Bowl explores options, opportunities for coming playoff

Thursday, July 5, 2012 at 10:34pm

Scott Ramsey paused for a few seconds, let out a sigh and organized his thoughts before he answered.

Does he like the new four-team football playoff system?

For the president and CEO of the Music City Bowl, that is a loaded question.

“It wasn’t a process we had any decision-making power in,” Ramsey, who also heads up the Nashville Sports Council, said. “So I kind of accepted whenever the presidents and commissioners decided to go with it we were going to have to react to that in the market place to try to maintain our bowl’s level of success. ... I hope there’s not a natural separation of, ‘Hey, it’s playoffs or nothing,’ and the bowls can still thrive.”

Ramsey and bowl chairs across the country are bracing themselves for the trickle-down effect of last week’s approval of a four-team playoff, which begins in 2014 and replaces the unpopular BCS.

“I think every bowl will be impacted to some degree,” he said. “To what degree is still a little bit unknown. I think every bowl is in a waiting game right now.”

The two national semifinal games will rotate among six bowl sites and the title game will rotate to a neutral site, which will be determined through a bid process. Ramsey said it is possible the Nashville Sports Council could host both.

The four BCS bowls — the Fiesta, Orange, Rose and Sugar — along with the new Champions Bowl, which pits the Big 12 and SEC champions, are expected to be announced as semifinal sites. That leaves one opening.

The national championship game will go to the highest bidder. Whether the 68,798-seat LP Field could be a real contender is still unknown. Ramsey expects the commissioners to unveil bid requirements —minimum seats, dome, retractable roof, etc. — within the next three to six months.

“If it’s an opportunity for us to bid, we’re certainly going to evaluate that and strongly consider it,” Ramsey said. “Until we know the bid [requirements] it is kind of hard to speculate right now. But we’re going to try to be aggressive as we can to best position Nashville and the bowl to continue to reap benefits for the city. I just don’t know where that insertion in the process is going to be.”

With the top four teams — not just conference champions — chosen by a selection committee, the remaining bowls will be grappling for pecking order in an effort to grab the best remaining teams.

Subsequently, the bowl’s draw could impact ticket sales, hotel bookings and revenue for the city. Currently, the Music City Bowl receives the seventh SEC choice and gets the sixth pick in the ACC. Bowls such as the Gator Bowl, Capitol One Bowl and Chick-fil-A Bowl all select SEC teams before the Music City Bowl.

Thus, iff two SEC teams make the four-team playoff field, that leaves slim pickings for those bowls further down the totem pole. Or, if the SEC doesn’t have enough bowl-eligible teams, the Music City Bowl could be forced to pull from another conference. That scenario unfolded in 2005 when Virginia (ACC) played Minnesota (Big 10).

“We expect competition. We’re going to be prepared for that,” Ramsey said. “The new system is certainly something everybody is going to have to react to.”

The financial impact of last December's Music City Bowl between Mississippi State and Wake Forest was more than $22.2 million to the city, according to Sports Council figures.

The bowl, which began in 1998 and is played at LP Field on or around New Year’s Eve, wants to continue its contract with the ACC and SEC beyond the 2013 season.

Since 2006, when the bowl began pairing the two conferences, the economic impact for Nashville has surpassed $20 million in economic impact four times; there have been three sellouts; an average of 40,000 out-of-town guests have visited during the week of the bowl; and the game has drawn more than 3.5 million TV viewers four times.

“We really want to be aggressive to the best we can,” Ramsey said. “We certainly want to make sure the bowl game continues to do what we designed it to do, which is to bring in a lot of out-of-town folks, fill up our city, fill up our stadium and really hopefully showcase our city on a national television platform.”

1 Comment on this post:

By: Ask01 on 7/7/12 at 5:33

I suspect a new scheme is brewing in the bowels of Metro.

This is just the initial rumblings.

Watch for at first quiet, very low key proposals, innocently masquerading as "enhanced maintenance," or perhaps, "periodic improvements" to crop up quietly, without much fanfare in council meetings when sports authority issues are discussed.

When the lid finally comes off, there will be a rush to vote, probably just after an election, to approve a package aimed at upgrading the stadium to make a bid to host one of the playoff games or perhaps the championship.

There will be open meetings of course, but by this point in the process, too many under the table deals and behind the scenes "gentlemans agreements" will have been made to derail the train.

Here is a suggestion for Nashville leadership(?). Since we taxpayers are fairly certain you will, with open support from the Chamber of Commerce and others expecting to profit from this project try to push this through at some point, why don't you form a committee to solicit funds from interested parties to finance this boondoggle without using public money?

I know, I know, the very idea is un Nashville to expect business to finance any project they can sucker taxpayers and Metro into supporting, but we would appreciate you trying this concept, and make businesses risk their own money instead of using taxpayers.