Holiday Bowl back to sell-out for Arizona-Nebraska matchup


After a one-year interruption, the Holiday Bowl will return to its sold-out status for Wednesday’s game between Arizona and Nebraska at Qualcomm Stadium.

The game’s ninth sellout in 12 years and 20th in its 32-year history is the result of the fervent backing both teams receive, compensating for diminished local sales, Bruce Binkowski, the game’s executive director, told City News Service.

Nebraska sold its entire 11,000-ticket allotment the first day tickets went on sale, while Arizona sold out its similar allotment on the second day, Binkowski said. Qualcomm Stadium seats about 66,000.

“What we have here is two programs that are on their way back,” Binkowski said. “Their fans are excited about them.”

The Holiday Bowl’s customary 92 percent-93 percent renewal rate among its ticket holders dropped to about 85 percent for this year’s game, Binkowski said.

“Most of those were large ticket orders, companies that would buy 300 or 400 tickets, reducing their ticket purchase,” Binkowski said.

However, when the matchup was announced Dec. 6, “a couple of companies that canceled their tickets called us back,” Binkowski said. “It’s amazing what a game with a lot of interest will do for you.”

There were more than 64,000 tickets sold for the 2008 Holiday Bowl between Oklahoma State and Oregon, which drew a crowd announced at 59,106 Binkowski said. The end of the Holiday Bowl’s five-year sellout streak had “a lot to do with the economy,” Binkowski said last year.

Last year’s game had an economic impact of $34.7 million, $18 million from direct visitor spending and $16.7 million from indirect spending, according to a study conducted by the San Diego State University Center for Hospitality and Tourism Research. It drew 36,052 fans from outside San Diego County, the study found.

The Holiday Bowl and last week’s Poinsettia Bowl provide a boost to San Diego’s hotels in their least busy month of the year, Joe Terzi, president and chief executive officer of the San Diego Convention and Visitors Bureau, told KSWB.

“We love both bowls and want to have them here forever,” he said.

The mission of the San Diego Bowl Game Association, which operates both games, is to generate tourism, exposure, economic benefit and civic pride for San Diego and its residents, Binkowski said.

This year’s Holiday Bowl ends the customary matchup between the second-place team in the Pacific-10 Conference and the third-place team in the Big 12 Conference. Next year, the Holiday Bowl is expected to match the Pacific-10’s third-place team and Big 12’s fifth-place team.

“I don’t feel it’s going to be a problem,” Binkowski said. “We’re still going to have Pac-10. We’re still going to have Big 12. We’re still going to have big games and a lot of people will be coming to San Diego.

“If we were in next year’s picking order, our game would have been Oregon State versus Oklahoma and that would have been a home run as well.

The No. 2 Pacific-10 Conference vs. No. 3 Big 12 Conference matchup will shift next year to the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio, Texas, which outbid the Holiday Bowl.

To reach the payout demands being requested the Holiday Bowl would have had to raise its average tickets price from around $65 to $100, Binkowski said.

“We just didn’t feel that was the right thing to do,” he said.