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|
|AdvoCare 100||AdvoCare||Independence Bowl Foundation*|
|Alamo||Valero||Valero Alamo Bowl*|
|Armed Forces||Bell Helicopter||ESPN|
|Beef O'Brady's||Beef O'Brady's||ESPN|
|Belk||Belk||Charlotte Sports Foundation*|
|Buffalo Wild Wings||Buffalo Wild Wings||Fiesta Bowl organization*|
|Capital One||Capital One||Florida Citrus Sports*|
|Chick-fil-A||Chick-fil-A||Peach Bowl, Inc.*|
|Cotton||AT&T||Cotton Bowl Athletic Association*|
|Famous Idaho Potato||Idaho Potato Council||ESPN|
|Fiesta||Tostitos||Fiesta Bowl organization*|
|Fight Hunger||none||San Francisco Bowl Game Assoc.*|
|Gator||TaxSlayer.com||Gator Bowl Association*|
|GoDaddy||GoDaddy||Mobile Alabama Bowl, Inc.*|
|Heart of Dallas||PlainsCapitalBank||ESPN Regional TV|
|Holiday||National University||San Diego Bowl Association*|
|Las Vegas||Royal Purple||ESPN|
|Liberty||AutoZone||Liberty Bowl Festival Association*|
|Little Caesars Pizza||Little Caesars||Motor City Bowl*|
|Military||Northrop Grumman||DC Bowl Committee, Inc.*|
|Music City||Franklin Amer. Mortg.||Franklin Amer. Mortg. Music City Bowl*|
|New Orleans||R&L Carriers||New Orleans Bowl, Inc.*|
|Orange||Discover||the Orange Bowl Committee*|
|Outback||Outback||Outback Bowl Organization*|
|Pinstripe||New Era||the New York Yankees|
|Poinsettia||San Diego County C.U.||San Diego Bowl Game Association*|
|Rose||VIZIO||Pasadena Tournament of Rose Assoc.*|
|Russell Athletic||Russell Athletic||Florida Citrus Sports*|
|Sugar||Allstate||Sugar Bowl Organization*|
|Sun||Hyundai||Sun Bowl Association*|
|Bleacher Report Original Research|
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.
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.
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.
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 Association: Owns 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 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.
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  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).
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.