Sun Bowl in strong position despite playoff system, organizers say

The Sun Bowl's Future

EL PASO, Texas - Bowl games like the Hyundai Sun Bowl are keeping a close eye on their future in the midst of proposals to expand the college football playoff system.

At 83 years-old and counting, the Sun Bowl is tied with the Sugar and Orange bowls as the nation's second oldest bowl game, behind the Rose Bowl.

With the expansion of the playoff system a possibility, the Sun Bowl's security is in its contracts.

"From my standpoint, and from our standpoint for the Sun Bowl, we're hoping we can continue all four of those relationships," said Hyundai Sun Bowl Executive Director Bernie Olivas.

The Sun Bowl has a strong relationship with title sponsor Hyundai, a nearly half-century relationship with CBS to televise the game, and contracts for teams with the PAC-12 and ACC, Olivas said.

"Three years ago, we signed a six-year deal with everybody, so we're pretty safe through the 2019 game and then we'll start over again. This will be our 49th consecutive year on CBS. I hope it continues for 49 more years.

Hyundai Sun Bowl Selection Committee Chairman John Folmer, who has served in that capacity for 44 of the game's 83 years, sees a bright future despite uncertainty in expanding the playoff.

"We continue to bring good football teams in here and I think a lot of that has to do with the fact we are with CBS. We have a good corporate sponsor, and also the fact we've been in business a long time, they know they are going to have a good time when they get here," Folmer said.

"We'll have a total of 10 years, which will be the longest sponsor ever in the history of the bowl game and that's really important to this city as we continue to really shine in the sun," said El Paso Mayor and Hyundai El Paso President Oscar Leeser.

Leeser also thinks the game is on solid ground. "What we did is we mirrored the CBS deal and that was important to us to make sure that the title sponsor and TV sponsorship was running hand-in-hand," Leeser said.  "Between Hyundai, the Sun Bowl Association and CBS it's a great partnership, so partnerships is what's made it what it's about."

Leeser told ABC-7 ticket sales for Friday's Hyundai Sun Bowl have reached 35,000. He is confident last year's Sun Bowl crowd of just over 41,000 -- hurt by cold weather and snow -- will be surpassed Friday. Game attendance has averaged about 48,000 the past decade.

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