By : Brett McMurphy, College football reporter
From : espn.com
Original Source : Click Here
On Tuesday, the NCAA certified a record 42 bowl games for the 2015 season. If it’s up to Paul Sergeant, there will be a 43rd bowl game in 2016 — held in Melbourne, Australia.
Sergeant, CEO of Melbourne Stadiums Limited, is part of a group proposing to host a bowl game at Etihad Stadium in Australia next season, featuring teams from the Pac-12 and Mountain West.
“If it was up to us, we’re good to go for 2016,” Sergeant told ESPN.com. “But there are many other moving parts involved. From our perspective we are 100 percent (committed), but we’re only one player in it.”
Sergeant was part of a four-man contingent that traveled to Phoenix and met with Pac-12, Mountain West and various college football officials the past couple of days.
“The necessities for a bowl game seem to be in place (there), including a solid management team,” Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson said. “A stadium, local support and an appetite for college football.”
Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott declined comment, but a league spokesman said the league “continues to have discussions about additional bowl opportunities.”
Because of the distance between Australia and the United States — it’s a 14½-hour flight from Los Angeles to Melbourne — the bowl game would be unique in a number of ways, Sergeant said.
While the other bowls pay the participating school or conference between a few hundred thousand to several million dollars for their appearance, the Australia bowl would not pay the schools or conferences any money. However, it would cover all expenses instead. Sergeant also said his bowl would not require ticket commitments from each school.
“The key element is there’s no risk for the conference or the teams,” Sergeant said.
Etihad Stadium has a capacity of about 53,000, but Sergeant said he’s not expecting a large amount of fans from either school. The game most likely would be played between Dec. 20 and Dec. 30.
“We would expect visiting fans (from the United States) in the hundreds, not the thousands,” Sergeant said. “We’re basing having a capacity crowd on the domestic market.”
Sergeant also said he’s realistic his bowl could get one of the last selections from each conference.
“That’s part of the discussions,” Sergeant said. “We know where we fit in the food chain. We’re not expecting the No. 1 choice. We’re going into this with our eyes wide open.”
In 2015, the Pac-12 and Mountain West will each have a minimum of seven bowl tie-ins.
Sergeant has been working on this bowl game for the past year and a half and hoped to debut it in 2015.
“We had a lot of conversations (with the Pac-12) but we ran out of time,” Sergeant said. “We’re deadly serious about making it happen (in 2016). I think the response we got (from the Pac-12 and Mountain West) is they got the message.
“This would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for the student-athletes. The Pac-12 and Mountain West have been incredibly receptive. We’ve had some great dialogue.”
Sergeant said the bowl, which is seeking a title sponsor, would ideally not be a one-time deal. He wants to make the bowl an annual event. If successful, it also would be only the third bowl game held outside the United States since 2007. The International Bowl was in Toronto from 2007 to 2010 and the Bahamas Bowl debuted last season.