Big changes are reportedly coming to the Las Vegas Bowl.
On Thursday morning, Brett McMurphy reported that the Las Vegas Bowl will move from Sam Boyd Stadium to the city’s new NFL stadium once the next NCAA bowl cycle begins in 2020. That venue will be occupied by the Raiders when they move from Oakland.
The Vegas Bowl has been played at Sam Boyd Stadium, the home of UNLV football, since its inception in 1992.
But that’s not the only change.
Pac-12 vs. SEC?
Since 2001, the Vegas Bowl has featured a Mountain West vs. Pac-12 matchup. The Pac-12 will keep its affiliation in 2020, McMurphy is reporting, but the Mountain West will not. It will be another Power Five conference taking that slot, with the SEC as an apparent and logical front-runner.
A Pac-12 vs. SEC matchup would be the most intriguing and some sources consider the SEC the favorite to ultimately face the Pac-12 in the Vegas Bowl starting in 2020.
The Pac-12 currently plays bowl games against each of the Power 5 conferences, except for the SEC. The two conferences have played in only nine non-College Football Playoff/New Year’s 6 bowls. The last Pac-12 vs. SEC matchup in a non-CFB Playoff/New Year’s 6 bowl was 29 years ago in the 1989 Freedom Bowl.
Venue change makes it more attractive bowl
When you see a budget of $1.8 billion, it’s pretty obvious that the Raiders’ new stadium will be an upgrade to Sam Boyd Stadium, which opened in 1971. In turn, that makes the Las Vegas Bowl a far more attractive option for sponsors, television partners and football programs.
As one source told McMurphy:
“Every Power Five conference wants in this game because of the new stadium and location.”
The domed stadium is slated to hold 65,000 fans. Recent reports show significant progress on the construction, with the goal of opening in time for the 2020 NFL stadium looking like a very attainable goal. According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the Raiders recently reported that they have spent $172.4 million on the stadium thus far with the NFL pitching in $43.6 million to this point.
This is a tough blow for the Mountain West
The Las Vegas Bowl has been important for the Mountain West. Since 2006, the league often sends its champion to the bowl if it did not reach a BCS or College Football Playoff bowl, sometimes against a Pac-12 opponent. Last year, Boise State beat Oregon 38-28.
The conference is already preparing for the loss. McMurphy says the Arizona Bowl, which was introduced just three years ago and did not have a television partner for its first two games, is an option. That would be a tough consolation in a season where the Mountain West champion barely misses out on representing the Group of Five conferences in a New Year’s Six bowl.
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