On Wednesday, March 19, at the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta, the commissioners of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) and Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) along with representatives from ESPN, the City Council of Atlanta and the Atlanta Chapter of the 100 Black Men announced the creation of a new bowl game between the football champions of the two conferences.
MEAC and SWAC will meet in the newly created Celebration Bowl postseason game on Dec. 19, 2015, pitting the conference champion from these two Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) against each other. The game will be played at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta and will be broadcast on ESPN.
The goal of the Celebration Bowl is to provide the champions of the MEAC and the SWAC, and their alumni, fans and sponsors a first-class bowl experience while continuing to celebrate the legacy, values and traditions of Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
Events surrounding the game will include a kickoff luncheon, VIP event, community outreach and family events.
ESPN’s Jay Harris made the announcement, followed by comments from Ceasar C. Mitchell, president of Atlanta City Council, Dr. Dennis Thomas, MEAC Commissioner and Duer Sharp, SWAC Commissioner.
Sharp stated, “This is a great opportunity for our schools and student-athletes to compete on a national stage and showcase the talent that exists within HBCUs. And to have it during bowl season, the most exciting time in college football, is a bonus,” said Sharp.
Dr. Thomas of MEAC offered:
“As part of the conference’s continued efforts in branding and increasing its exposure on a national platform, I am elated that champions from the MEAC and the SWAC will compete in a bowl game, during the most exciting time of the year for collegiate football. Our continued partnership with ESPN will give our coaches, student-athletes and fans an opportunity to participate in an exciting bowl game, on a national stage, which will showcase their institutions and talented football programs. Adding a national television opportunity for our champion, during this time of year, only furthers our branding and marketability.”
In addition to Thomas and Sharp, Pete Derzis, Senior Vice President of ESPN Events expressed his excitement about the reality of the game and it being held at the Georgia Dome. “It gives me great pleasure to announce that this bowl game is a reality. It’s a testament to the collaborative spirit of both the MEAC and SWAC and their respective commissioners that the Celebration Bowl will take place,” said Derzis. “The Georgia Dome is the perfect venue for the Celebration Bowl – and we hope that fans across the country will take advantage of this experience,” he added.
Rich McKay, President and CEO of the Atlanta Falcons spoke about the honor of hosting such an event and partnering with HBCUs, which has been a tradition of the organization. “The Falcons have long been strong advocates for historically black college football with our close partnership with the Black College Football Hall of Fame enshrinement dinner each year” he said. “We are pleased to partner with ESPN and the Georgia Dome to provide game day services and promotional support in order to help make Atlanta the long term home for this game.”
When asked if the City of Atlanta is in support of Celebration Bowl 2015, Mitchell responded that “The Celebration Bowl has the full support of the City of Atlanta.” John Grant, Chief Executive Officer, 100 Black Men of Atlanta, Inc. discussed their partnership with ESPN in celebrating the best of HBCU football. He stated, “Our organization has the recipe for creating the right kind of change in the African American community, and ESPN certainly has the recipe for delivering the best college football experience.” Grant added, “Our relationship with ESPN will help us continue our longstanding tradition of uplifting the African American community.”
This post was written by Nsenga K. Burton, Ph.D., editor-in-chief of the Burton Wire. Follow her on Twitter @TheBurtonWire.