Sun Bowl officials ready to tackle construction issues

EL PASO, Texas - The 80th annual Hyundai Sun Bowl is less than two months away.

And like it or not -- it will be played amid a lot of construction.

The massive Texas Department of Transportation project to widen Sun Bowl Drive isn't expected to be completed until June. So that means the Sun Bowl, on New Year's Eve day, will have to work around it.

But Sun Bowl Executive Director Bernie Olivas says they have a game plan.

"I don't think the construction is going to affect any of the traffic," Olivas said.

While the noise is deafening and at times goes on well into the night, Olivas is confident the 80th annual Sun Bowl game can be played next month with minimal distractions.

"There's always going to be two-way traffic along Sun Bowl Drive, which is our concern, so the people who need to go South to North and the people going North to South are not going to be hindered," he said. "I feel pretty confident that everything is going to go pretty smoothly in spite of the construction that's going on."

According to TXDOT officials, the project is divided into two phases. The first phase is all of this excavation, which is expected to wrap up by the end of November. However, there will be more excavation to be done come Spring break.

"We're taking all the precautions we can to make sure that everything runs smoothly for our fans," Olivas said.

The biggest concern is the loss of parking lots along Sun Bowl Drive and Schuster. But the Sun Bowl is adding more shuttles around the stadium on game day to deal with the situation.

"We've added at least 50-percent more shuttle vehicles to make sure that people who need to park on Schuster who are now having to maybe park up on Sunset Heights," Olivas said, "we will have shuttle buses all the way out there to bring them up to the stadium."

According to UTEP officials, the "M" on the mountain will not be affected.

As far as the schools for this year's game, Olivas said at least five teams in the PAC-12 and ACC are still in contention. In the PAC-12, he named Washington, Oregon State, UCLA, Arizona State and even USC, which played here last year, as possibilities. In the ACC, Olivas listed Miami, Virginia Tech, Duke, Maryland and Pitt.

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