Star-Bulletin Sports

Tuesday, April 3, 2001


Bowl marketing
could be too late

But, among the many possibilities,
the NCAA may tell Rohlfing to keep
the holiday games in Hawaii

By Paul Arnett

Aloha Sports Inc. executive director Fritz Rohlfing was unaware that a marketing plan being considered by the University of Hawaii is similar to one that was put in place in 1999.

Former Bowl Games Hawaii directors Marcia and Lenny Klompus and Hawaii athletic director Hugh Yoshida reached an agreement where season-ticket holders for the UH football team had an option of buying seats for the two Christmas Day games.

"I wish we would have had something like that this past year," Rohlfing said yesterday afternoon. "Because it's a great cross-promotional idea. If one of the games is to stay in Hawaii, it would be great if the university could do something similar."

Marcia Klompus said yesterday that the promotional idea cost Bowl Games Hawaii about $800. UH fans opting to purchase tickets for the games received free parking.

"You should have seen all the season-ticket holders trying to cash in after Hawaii qualified for the Oahu Bowl," Marcia Klompus said. "The ones who decided to buy tickets early were rewarded."

Rohlfing recently filed his certification papers with the NCAA for the Oahu and Aloha bowls. He listed Seattle, Honolulu and San Francisco as possible sites for this year's postseason games. He believes the NCAA is sympathetic to his economic plight and will allow him to ship out the Oahu Bowl to Seattle.

"They're very excited in Seattle about the prospects of one of the games going there," Rohlfing said. "Our first goal now is to get certification. If we don't, we're dead. The NCAA seems to understand where we're at.

"As I've said, we have kept the University of Hawaii informed as to what is going on. We understand what it means to them if both games leave here.

We're exploring different things to see what can be done."

While Hawaii is limited in what it can do to keep one of the two Christmas Day bowl games here in the state, the Western Athletic Conference is not. Commissioner Karl Benson was here a month ago to meet with Rohlfing to make sure Hawaii's role in the Christmas Day games was secure.

"Obviously, we want to keep involved in these games through our association with Hawaii," Benson said. "If one of these two games is moved to the mainland, it could weaken the tie already in place.

"Right now, we're negotiating to stay in the Mobile Bowl because it's important for our teams located in the Central Time Zone to have a bowl that's accessible for the schools in Texas and Oklahoma. But it's good for the WAC for Hawaii to be a viable option through its past association with the Christmas Day games."

At this point, it appears only the Aloha Bowl has a chance of remaining. Honolulu is still being considered by Rohlfing. But so is San Francisco. UH officials are hopeful they can do their part to help keep the game at Aloha Stadium because there is a written agreement in place that the Warriors will be considered for one of the two games if they are bowl eligible.

"Even if we go to San Francisco, Hawaii could still be in the picture," Rohlfing said. "There are plenty of UH fans in the Bay Area. We've seen that before."

Still, if the game is moved to the mainland, it's doubtful the networks or the local bowl officials running the game, would be interested in Hawaii unless the Warriors were nationally ranked. For that to happen, UH would likely have to win the WAC and would be contractually obligated to play in the Silicon Valley Bowl held in San Jose, Calif.

Rohlfing's current deals with the Pac-10, Big East and Atlantic Coast Conference end after this year's games. A source at ABC-TV said last March that, outside of Hawaii, the network wasn't interested in the WAC, especially if a name-brand school from the Big 12 or Big Ten became available.

There's also a possibility that the NCAA will turn down Rohlfing's request to move the games to the mainland. It could be perceived as circumventing a moratorium put in place last August by the NCAA Council of Presidents that there would be no more new bowl games for two years.

The NCAA wants to avoid oversaturating the postseason. If the current bowl games aren't strong enough to exist in the current system, perhaps attrition is a way to control the postseason parade.

According to Lenny Klompus, the games were originally joined at the hip. That was the only way the NCAA approved his doubleheader proposal so quickly. It's possible the NCAA could tell Rohlfing the games aren't going anywhere and it's up to him to make them work in Hawaii.

"That could certainly happen," Pac-10 commissioner Tom Hansen said. "But they are also aware of what happened out in Hawaii last year. Nobody wants that to happen again. We would like to see at least one game remain in Hawaii because that's what made our bowl arrangement so special. Our teams have always enjoyed coming there."


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