UMass-ESPN Bowl Agreement a Win for the Fenway Bowl and Minutemen
A path exists for the Beantown Bowl to get a Bay State Team
Yesterday, ESPN Events announced a deal with UMass to provide bowl tie-ins for the next four years. This complements their TV deal with ESPN which runs for the next three years.
As it stands, ESPN Events owns and operates 14 bowls, including the Fenway Bowl. Although the Fenway Bowl’s inaugural edition was canceled last year, the matchup was not favorable for local fans and participating fanbases alike.
SMU and Virginia both had to travel considerable distances to chilly Boston weather just to see their teams play in a bowl. Additionally, the game had little appeal to local fans with Virginia being in the division opposite Boston College in the ACC and SMU coming from Dallas.
When the bowl was announced to be part of the 2020-2025 bowl cycle, UConn was a member of the American Athletic Conference. With their departure, the American has two schools in the Northeast to rotate in Navy and Temple. Both have not been Bowl-eligible since 2019, putting one fanbase in the uncomfortable position of having to travel far into the New England cold for bowl season.
If UMass reaches bowl eligibility, they can save the American from this predicament. The game would also immediately become their biggest game in their short FBS history as the opponent would come from the ACC.
The game would be even sweeter for both parties if UMass gets paired with Syracuse or their Bay State rival, Boston College. Imagine the fanfare that would ensue if UMass got their first victory over the Eagles since 1979 in front of a national TV audience at Fenway.
Overall, the agreement with ESPN Events boosts UMass’ recruiting efforts significantly and gives the Fenway Bowl the regional appeal it desperately needs. With this Bowl agreement and ESPN TV deal, UMass’ independence is significantly more sustainable until the Minutemen find a suitable conference home.