Who Profits from Every Bowl Game

Amy DaughtersFeatured ColumnistDecember 19, 2013

ATLANTA - DECEMBER 31:  Brady Dalfrey #38 holds as kicker Colt David #6 of the LSU Tigers kicks a field goal against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets during the Chick-fil-A Bowl on December 31, 2008 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Have you ever wondered who owns the bowl games?

Not who pays for the title sponsorship of a game and which network has the broadcasting rights, but who has ownership?

The following table details the organization behind each bowl: The entity that sells the sponsorships, negotiates the conference tie-ins, handles the TV contract, markets the game, sells the tickets and writes the checks.

This is also the group which stands to profit from the game. Where the excess goes depends on the nature of the organization itself and the people who operate it.

College Bowl Ownership
BowlTitle SponsorOwner/Operator
AdvoCare 100AdvoCareIndependence Bowl Foundation*
AlamoValeroValero Alamo Bowl*
Armed ForcesBell HelicopterESPN
Beef O'Brady'sBeef O'Brady'sESPN
BelkBelkCharlotte Sports Foundation*
Buffalo Wild WingsBuffalo Wild WingsFiesta Bowl organization*
Capital OneCapital OneFlorida Citrus Sports*
Chick-fil-AChick-fil-APeach Bowl, Inc.*
CottonAT&TCotton Bowl Athletic Association*
Famous Idaho PotatoIdaho Potato CouncilESPN
FiestaTostitosFiesta Bowl organization*
Fight HungernoneSan Francisco Bowl Game Assoc.*
GatorTaxSlayer.comGator Bowl Association*
GoDaddyGoDaddyMobile Alabama Bowl, Inc.*
Heart of DallasPlainsCapitalBankESPN Regional TV
HolidayNational UniversitySan Diego Bowl Association*
Las VegasRoyal PurpleESPN
LibertyAutoZoneLiberty Bowl Festival Association*
Little Caesars PizzaLittle CaesarsMotor City Bowl*
MilitaryNorthrop GrummanDC Bowl Committee, Inc.*
Music CityFranklin Amer. Mortg.Franklin Amer. Mortg. Music City Bowl*
New MexicoGildanESPN
New OrleansR&L CarriersNew Orleans Bowl, Inc.*
OrangeDiscoverthe Orange Bowl Committee*
OutbackOutbackOutback Bowl Organization*
PinstripeNew Erathe New York Yankees
PoinsettiaSan Diego County C.U.San Diego Bowl Game Association*
RoseVIZIOPasadena Tournament of Rose Assoc.*
Russell AthleticRussell AthleticFlorida Citrus Sports*
SugarAllstateSugar Bowl Organization*
SunHyundaiSun Bowl Association*
Bleacher Report Original Research


ESPN Ownership

ESPN owns eight of the 34 bowl games listed (every game minus the BCS championship).  That equals 23 percent of the total.

According to an Associated Press report on Fox News, the most recent ESPN purchase was the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, sealed in August of this year.

ESPN bought the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl this year.
ESPN bought the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl this year.Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports

Beyond this, ESPN regional television has also acquired the Heart of Dallas Bowl, according to Bill Nichols of the Dallas Morning News.

This takes the percentage of ownership up to 26 percent.

The only other network entity involved in bowl ownership is Raycom Sports, which established the Belk Bowl and is still involved in its operation.  Raycom is a self-described “independent sports syndicator and producer” based in Charlotte, N.C. 


Non-Profit Percentage

Twenty-four of the owners listed are non-profit organizations.  That amounts to 70 percent of the total.

The only known exceptions are:  The ESPN-owned bowls and the Pinstripe Bowl, which was created by the New York Yankees and operated by the franchise.

The New York Yankees are behind the Pinstripe Bowl.
The New York Yankees are behind the Pinstripe Bowl.Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports


Multiple Bowl Owners

Other than ESPN, the following entities own more than one bowl game.


Fiesta Bowl organization:  Owns and hosts the Fiesta Bowl and serves in the same capacity for the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, previously known as the Copper Bowl (1989-1996) and the Insight.com Bowl (2002-2011). 


San Diego Bowl Game AssociationOwns and operates the Holiday Bowl (established 1978) and the Poinsettia Bowl (established 2005); both are played at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, Calif.

Florida Citrus Sports owns the Russell Athletic Bowl and the Capital One Bowl.
Florida Citrus Sports owns the Russell Athletic Bowl and the Capital One Bowl.Scott Cunningham/Getty Images


Florida Citrus Sports:  Owns and hosts the Russell Athletic Bowl (most recently the Champs Sports Bowl) and the Capital One Bowl.  Both games are played in the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Fla. The Russell Athletic Bowl was established 1990, while the Capital One Bowl dates back to 1947 when it was founded as the Tangerine Bowl.


Fun Facts


Little Caesars Pizza Bowl:  According to Bill Shea of Crain’s Detroit Business, the Pizza Bowl (originally named the Motor City Bowl) was founded by George Perles. Perles—listed as the CEO Emeritus of the game—was the head coach at Michigan State from 1983 to 1994, accumulating a 68-67-4 record.

The Spartan contingency at the bowl was joined by a Wolverine in 2009 when, according to Erick Smith of USA Today, former Michigan coach Lloyd Carr was named president of the postseason game.


Armed Forces Bowl and Heart of Texas Bowl:  According to Bill Nichols of the Dallas Morning News, the Armed Forces Bowl and the Heart of Dallas Bowl are both co-run by the same staff.  The common link between the two is ownership by ESPN and a home base in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

In July [2013] it was announced that the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl had joined forces with the Heart of Dallas Bowl, securing a commitment to have a Big Ten representative on a rotating basis over a seven-year period (2013-2019).

The 2014 College Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony is slated for Atlanta, Ga.
The 2014 College Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony is slated for Atlanta, Ga.Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports


Chick-fil-A Bowl:  According to J. Scott Trubey of the Atlanta Business Chronicle, the non-profit owner of the Chick-fil-A Bowl (Peach Bowl, Inc.) formed a separate organization to operate the new College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta, Ga.  The Hall is scheduled to move from South Bend, Ind. to Atlanta in 2014.


Belk Bowl:  The Belk Bowl’s owner—the Charlotte Sports Foundation—also operates the Dr. Pepper ACC Championship game.  Both games are played at the Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C.