Star-Bulletin Sports

Friday, March 30, 2001


Baseball owners
bid for Hawaii’s
bowl games

Seattle, San Francisco interested
in Aloha, Oahu bowls

By Paul Arnett

Pac-10 commissioner Tom Hansen is hopeful one of the two Christmas Day bowl games will remain in Hawaii, but he understands the economic crunch facing Aloha Inc. executive director Fritz Rohlfing.

In an interview yesterday with the Star-Bulletin, Hansen said it was his understanding that the ownership of the Seattle Mariners was interested in possibly hosting a bowl game, as was the ownership of the San Francisco Giants.

Rohlfing said Wednesday that those two West Coast cities were possible sites should he decide to relocate not only the 3-year-old Oahu Bowl, but also the Aloha Bowl, which has been played in Honolulu during Christmas season since 1982.

The Pac-10 is under contract to supply two bowl-eligible teams. Rohlfing receives the fourth and fifth selections from that conference as long as they have six wins against Division I competition.

This past year, the Bowl Championship Series selected two teams from the Pac-10 instead of one, leaving Rohlfing with only one eligible team from the Pac-10.

"In the past, it's been very frustrating for all of us to try to get the available hotel space in Honolulu on Nov. 18, when we've known what teams were going where," Hansen said. "But when that date gets pushed back even further by the BCS process, then it made it doubly difficult for Fritz this year because the teams we thought might wind up in Honolulu, went someplace else.

"Now let me say this: All this speculation is a little premature because the NCAA Bowl Selection Committee might not approve these possible site switches. It will be interesting to see what happens at the meetings next month. We're hopeful one game will remain in Hawaii because of our ties there.

"We're very happy with the Christmas Day time slot and the national publicity that generates. Plus all the hospitality shown by (former Aloha Bowl directors) Marcia and Lenny Klompus is something our student-athletes will never forget. But if Fritz does have to leave, then keeping the games in our area is better than going to the Midwest."

Rohlfing will send his certification papers to the NCAA today. He has listed Honolulu, Seattle and San Francisco as possible sites for the two games. Although the NCAA would normally frown on this proposal, especially at this late date, Rohlfing would probably receive approval because both games have a solid sponsor in Jeep and national television deals with ABC and ESPN.

Last August, the NCAA Council of Presidents issued a two-year moratorium on new bowl games. But according to Hansen, that doesn't preclude Rohlfing from moving his games somewhere else.

"Fritz isn't giving up the ownership of the games," Hansen said.

"All the presidents wanted was to make sure there weren't more than the 25 postseason games already in place. If someone drops out, then another game can come in. And if Fritz wants to move the game somewhere else, the moratorium doesn't affect him because those games already had been approved prior to the president's ruling."

Rohlfing said he couldn't comment on the details of the possible deals because they were ongoing.

He also has to wait to receive approval from the NCAA next month before making any lasting decisions.

He did say Wednesday that the reason for the possible mainland moves was money. The past two Aloha Bowls haven't fared well attendance-wise, causing the sponsor and the network some concerns.

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