January 9, 2012
All across America this evening, fans will be watching the BCS Championship Game being played in beautiful downtown New Orleans, Louisiana. The Louisiana State University Tigers (who play in another "Tiger Stadium" -- located in Baton Rouge, not Detroit) face the University of Alabama Crimson Tide. Being in close proximity to the Big Easy, both teams will have home field advantage, in effect.
And so, I took the opportunity to finish long-overdue revisions to the Superdome diagrams. I added a new lower-deck version, showing more clearly how the reconfiguration from football to baseball was done. As of last year, such a change is no longer possible, because they have totally rebuilt the lower deck (which no longer retracts), along with a much bigger main concourse, etc. While I was at it, I also added a hypothetical suggested alternative baseball configuration, in which home plate would be on the southwest side of the field, rather than in the south corner, as before.
And by the way, what was once called the Louisiana Superdome is now called the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Presumably that's where some of the money for the renovation came from. The name change formally took place back in October, actually.
I was reminded of the Superdome name change during the Sugar Bowl last Tuesday night, as Michigan Wolverines edged the Virginia Tech Hokies 33-30 in overtime. A few days before that, the U.Va. Cavaliers were trounced by Auburn in the "Chick-Fil-A Bowl," and Clemson was crushed by West Virginia in the Orange Bowl. Wake Forest and Georgia Tech also lost, and the only Atlantic Coast Conference team to win a bowl game this year was Florida State. Not a good year for ACC football.
Speaking of bowls, in case I haven't made this clear enough before, I have very little interest in the controversy over the Bowl Championship System. In a sport with so many potentially contending teams (over a hundred), and only about a dozen games played per year, there is simply no way that any playoff system can yield a clear-cut Number One team. Nevertheless, every year I hear more people whining about the alleged arbitrary or unfair manner in which teams are chosen to participate in the Big Four Bowls: Rose, Orange, Sugar, and Fiesta. (The Cotton Bowl used to be in the Big Four.) If you're really curious about the rationale behind the current BCS system, see bcsfootball.org. But it won't change my mind:
There is no such thing as a "national champion" college football team.
[UPDATE: Alabama thoroughly dominated the line of scrimmage throughout the evening, and won rather handily, 21-0. Oddly, however, they didn't score any touchdowns until the last few minutes, and then they missed the extra point, or else it would have been 22-0. Meanwhile, Louisiana State barely got the ball to midfield, and didn't make a single third-down conversion until the fourth quarter. In this case, there's not much room for disputing who's the "top dog," so congratulations to the Crimson Tide.]
I am in the midst of updating all of the baseball stadiums pages in which college bowls were played; The links can be found on the Football use page. The truly significant bowls (basically, those which were in existence prior to the 1990s) are listed at the top of the text portion of each respective page, along with the All-Star Games (if any) and other major sporting events. The following table is ranked in rough order of importance:
|Current name||Old name||Baseball stadium name||When there?|
|Orange Bowl||(same)||Sun Life (Dolphin) Stadium||1996 - present|
|Chick-Fil-A Bowl||Peach Bowl||Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium||1971-1991|
|Holiday Bowl||(same)||Jack Murphy (QualComm) Stadium||1978 - present*|
|Military Bowl||Eagle Bank Bowl||RFK Stadium||2008 - present|
|Insight Bowl||Copper Bowl||Chase Field||2001 - 2005|
|Seattle Bowl (defunct)||Hula Bowl||Safeco Field||2001 only|
|Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl||Emerald Bowl||AT&T Park||2002 - present|
|Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl||St. Petersburg Bowl||Tropicana Field||2008 - present|
As of this year, of course, the stadium at the top of that list (Sun Life / Dolphin Stadium) no longer serves as a baseball stadium.
It makes my head spin trying to keep up with all the name changes for various bowl games, sponsors, etc., and I don't plan to make much effort to keep up with those changes. The table above barely scratches the surface. Some of these changes stretch the limits of credulity, such as the last two listed above. The now-defunct Seattle Bowl, which was played at Safeco Field in 2001 and had been the Oahu Bowl before that, was the subject of a legal dispute that was resolved last September; see ESPN. Also note that some of those stadiums host more than one bowl game. For example, QualComm Stadium also hosts the Poinsettia Bowl.
One aspect of the confusion is that some of the bowls have left the stadiums that were originally named for those events. I hope this clears up some of the confusion:
The (AT&T) Cotton Bowl Classic was played at Cotton Bowl Stadium from 1937 until 2009, after which it moved to Cowboys Stadium in suburban Arlington, Texas, the new home of the "Dallas" Cowboys. Ironically, in 2008 a major renovation to Cotton Bowl Stadium was completed, raising its seating capacity to 92,158. It is now double-decked all the way around the oval. Apparently, some big shots in Dallas were mad that the Cowboys were abandoning their city and were frantically trying to keep the Cotton Bowl there, but from what I can tell, this expansion was a complete waste of money. Now the only bowl played there is the TicketCity Bowl. See cottonbowlstadium.com and ticketcitybowl.com.
The (Discover, formerly FedEx) Orange Bowl was played in the Orange Bowl from 1935 until 1995, after which it moved to Sun Life Stadium. For the next 15 years, the Orange Bowl lingered semi-vacant in a state of "limbo." The new home of the Miami Marlins is being built on that same plot of land.
As for the (Allstate, formerly Nokia) Sugar Bowl, there never was a "Sugar Bowl Stadium" -- From 1935 until 1974, the Sugar Bowl was held in Tulane Stadium, which was demolished in 1980.
The only major bowl game that retains its historical name untainted by commercial sponsorship, is the Rose Bowl, which is played in the (eponymous) Rose Bowl. Good for them!
[UPDATE: The (Tostitos) Fiesta Bowl got underway in 1971, and was played in Sun Devil Stadium until 2006, when the University of Phoenix Stadium became the new home of the Arizona Cardinals. That stadium is notable in being the only university in America that has a football stadium but no football team. For more on the history of some of these bowls, see my blog post from Dec. 22, 2008. As I wrote then of the Bowl Championship System, "I think it's all a farce, and should be junked."]