Monday, December 24, 2007

Maintaining the Integrity of the Bowl System

There are bowl games. Then there is the Pizza Bowl, which quickly became a Wiz favorite when ESPN told fans of South Florida and East Carolina — the participants from last year's inaugural event — to sit on the side facing the main game camera to add to the illusion that somebody actually cared to trudge down to Birmingham's Legion Field to watch this.

There were other issues, namely the fact that the title sponsor could not work out a deal with the vendor to sell pizza inside the stadium. And vendors ran out of beer long before the game was over. There must have been only one keg because hardly anybody attended this event. Put it this way: dogs wandering outside the stadium attracted more fleas than the Pizza Bowl did fans.

To top it off, some analyst from ESPN later talked about how important it was to "maintain the integrity of the bowl system." What ESPN didn't tell you is that the Pizza Bowl is one of five games it sponsors, the others being the Las Vegas, New Mexico, Hawaii and Armed Forces games. Integrity here is code for selling out to make money for ESPN.
So imagine the joy when an email arrived Saturday from our man Greg. "For the second consecutive year, I find myself in Birmingham on a December afternoon at Legion Field watching the PapaJohns.com Bowl."

Then the photos started rolling in. Version 2.0 of the Pizza Bowl, as you will see, remains full of problems. Check out the spelling of "Cincinnatti" on an official game T-shirt above.

We also received an email saying that the vendor ran out of pizza during the first quarter.
So, how well attended was the Pizza Bowl? Last year's crowd was an "announced 32,023." On Saturday, officials "announced 35,258" attended the game, won by Cincinnati, 31-21.

But fans of the Bearcats and Golden Eagles were once again sitting on the same side of the stadium, the one facing the main camera. That's clear from the top photo. Click it to enlarge the image.

The bottom shot shows the local turnout. Kevin Scarbinsky of the Birmingham News wrote, "Did you know you could leave your house 30 miles away from Legion Field 90 minutes before kickoff and be in a parking lot at Legion Field 60 minutes before kickoff?"
Now what type of fan attended the Pizza Bowl? Certainly an adventurous type, some even patrons of the arts. "We went to Sammy's," Nick Brown, of Hamilton, Ohio, said of the strip club on Valley Avenue. "We also went to Hooters. Good food."
There were fans wearing Wiz-like hats and Jon Solomon of the Birmingham News chronicled this moment: "Best introduction to the South — Cincinnati fans watched incredulously before the game as a man preached on a megaphone outside the stadium. 'We're Catholics!' a Cincinnati fan shouted. One Cincinnati fan posed for a photo behind the preacher while holding a beer."
If you're headed to a bowl, send us images and comments about your experience. The address: dawizofodds (at) aol.com.

13 comments:

Gulfcoastboxing said...

Wish I would have thought about this. I (a LSU Fan) went check out the New Orleans Bowl. Attandance was announced at 25,000 something, no way in hell there were that many people.

Joey said...

Your tshirt up there is a boot, don't expect too much. It was my first Birmingham Bowl and I had a good time. Greg is acting like this was the Super Bowl he was attending. It was a shitty bowl game. You get what you came for.

greg6363 said...

Joey, you have me all wrong. There is an inherent charm to the efforts put on by the organizers of this bottom-of-the-barrel bowl game. I have no illusions about the significance of this event. It's just a hoot going to a college football bowl game in a decrepit stadium in the middle of a slum.

spike said...

I attended the National Lacrosse League championship game a few years ago. It was held in Columbus, Oh for some unknown reason - there is no team there. They did the same thing about forcing all the "fans" to sit on one side of the field. The temperature was pushing 100 degrees, and everyone was put on the east side of the field with the sun baking and blinding them. Like many other people, I ended up leaving the game early to escape the sun.

charo said...

Merry Christmas Wiz! We love you!

Garbo and Hitch

Anonymous said...

It was a poorly designed and attended bowl game. The people at the PapaJohns.com Bowl should be ashamed. The stadium is in the ghetto and the stadium itself is HORRIBLE. The pre-game atmosphere SUCKED. As I Southern Miss fan I went to the GMAC bowl in Mobile. It was clean, organized and oh yeah...EXCITING. I WILL NEVER GO BACK TO BIRMINGHAM.

Anonymous said...

If attendees checked their programs they would have noticed the date of the game printed in the gameday program was 12/21/07...they probably made the same mistake we did and showed up on the 22nd. Does anyone know how the game on the 21st came out?

Anonymous said...

Buddy comparing Birmingham to Mobile is like comparing a pile of shit to a steak. Everyone knows B-town is a shit hole. The further north you go in Alabama the worse it gets.

Anonymous said...

Wow! I'm in the Cinti wizard hat! I'm officially famous or something. :) Okay, so my take is the stadium was atrocious and even as a loyal UC fan, I don't know that I would go back to a bowl game in that stadium. The Papa John's people should seriously be embarrassed by how awful this stadium was. We had no toilet paper, something they called "food", no pizza, and a stadium that felt like it might fall down anytime anyone cheered. One of my friends tried to order a Mountain Dew which was proudly displayed directly next to the scoreboard (and at the same size I might note) and was told they didn't carry it. Wow.

Couldn't hear anything that was going on or being announced because there was one working speaker that sounded like the speakers in my 93 Saturn. We couldn't understand 10 words the entire game.

Then to top it all off, the announcer actually misidentifies their team as Mississippi State. I hope that announcer was fired on the spot. What an all in all horrible game.

Yeah for Cincinnatti versus Mississippi State! Boo for Legion Field and the Papa Johns Bowl Committee. Has anyone from the committee actually visited the stadium?

- LeAnne C., Wiz-Like Hat Wearer #2

ewad said...

Funny thing is we went to the game and had a great time. I enjoyed the heck out of Birmingham. It may not be one of the glamor Bowls, but if you decide you want to have a good time you can do it.... and we did!

Anonymous said...

What gives? Pictures I've seen of Legion Stadium show an upper deck opposite the pressbox side.

Anonymous said...

They tore down the upper deck so it wouldn't fall down... Legion field was once a great stadium, but it is outdated and needs a major upgrade. Don't expect it to be improved any time soon or for the surrounding neighborhood to be cleaned up. The mayor of Birmingham is a crook and this project wouldn't benefit him.

Anonymous said...

If I'm not mistaken the payout for each team was $37 and (1) free medium 3-item pizza with the purchase of a pizza of equal or greater value.
Go Bearcats!