By Jonathan Greene
00:03, 00:02, 00:01, 00:00. Game Over. Over 64,000 spectators have just watched Texas finish off Arizona State, 52-34, in the 2007 Holiday Bowl. Fans depart Qualcomm Stadium for destinations from San Diego to Texas and elsewhere having enjoyed another fantastic Pacific Life Holiday Bowl experience. Local fans may think that this is a wrap for bowl organizers and that planning will lay idle until late 2009.
“Not so fast my friends,” to steal a line from a popular ESPN college football commentator. The San Diego Bowl Game Association (SDBGA) and its events do not disappear until the next holiday season. The Holiday Bowl and its sister game, the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl, feature special events throughout the entire year.
One of the most frequently asked questions to any SDBGA organizer is, “Now what do you do for the rest of the year?” Plenty. Beginning in April, the SDBGA hosts 24 special events in addition to the two bowl games. These events include the Maui Jim Outrigger Challenge & Wells Fargo Luau, the Jack in the Box 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament, the Wells Fargo Golf Classic, the Wienerschnitzel Wiener Nationals, the Barona $1 Million Hole-in-One Shootout and the nationally-televised Port of San Diego Big Bay Balloon Parade.
“Producing the bowl games truly has become a year-around endeavor,” said SDBGA Executive Director Bruce Binkowski. “The cost of doing business in this industry has increased considerably in recent years, so it’s imperative that we produce these events throughout the calendar to help offset these expenses.”
Putting on just one bowl game is a lot of work, but to stage two games within one week is a daunting enough task. Add 24 other events and activities and it’s easy to see that the volunteers and staff have a tremendous challenge. A challenge that begins almost immediately after the calendar changes to a new year.
A staff of ten augments a team comprised of a board of directors, committee and hundreds more volunteers to do the almost impossible. Their roles cover everything from rolling out the red carpet when the teams arrive at their hotel to helping secure corporate sponsorships.
“This is a volunteer organization,” said 2008 SDBGA President Larry Baber. “If we don’t have this tremendously loyal group of community-minded individuals and groups, then San Diego doesn’t have bowl games.”
Not a football fan? No problem. The other special events provide San Diegans and others a variety of ways to be involved with the organization throughout the year.
If you are into outriggers, you’re covered. In late April, participants enjoyed a day of paddling, food and fun at the Maui Jim Outrigger Challenge at Bahia Point, Mission Bay. All skill levels of outriggers were on display in the canoes. No paddling experience was necessary, as the Hanohano Outrigger Canoe Club provided proper equipment and instructions. From a field of 83 five-person teams, team captain Ryan Goforth and "Paddle This!" were crowned champions of the this year’s event.
If being in the water is not your thing, head to the dry land and the asphalt courts of the Jack in the Box 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament, held on the weekend of May 17-18. Over 140 teams of weekend warriors and hoopsters challenged one another in this popular event at Crown Point Shores. There were 17 divisions, including brackets for men and women, of all ages and abilities. The weekend also featured the AT&T 3-Point Shootout and San Diego Mudd Club Free Throw Challenge.
Okay, so no water and no concrete, no worries. Why not play a round of golf on the lawns of the Sycuan Resort Golf Course for the Wells Fargo Golf Classic? The scramble-format tournament, held this year on June 23rd, is always a highlight on the local golf calendar. The day begins with a gourmet lunch, before the players tee off at noon for the shotgun start. After golf, participants enjoyed the cocktail reception/silent auction held in the clubhouse.
Maybe you do not want to participate in an event, but you have a four-legged friend who might. You’re covered as well. The popular and fun Wienerschnitzel Wiener Nationals are in action on August 30 at Qualcomm Stadium. The winner of the San Diego final will advance and join winning dogs from all around the Western U.S. at the Port of San Diego Big Bay Balloon Parade presented by the San Diego County Credit Union on December 29. Any dachshund may participate!
Want to become a millionaire? Who doesn’t?! For ten days, golfers of all ages and skill levels can pay $1 per ball to take their best shot at making a hole-in-one or coming the closest to the 125-yard pin. The top ten golfers on each of the qualifying days win great daily prizes. The top golfer each day, as well as everyone who makes a hole-in-one, qualifies for the $1 Million Final Shootout at the Barona Creek Golf Club on September 22.
“The growth of some of our events is remarkable,” said Binkowski. “Our parade has become nationally recognized as the largest balloon parade in the country, the wiener dog races attract well over 300 dogs each year and our annual “Hoops at the Beach” event continues to be San Diego’s largest 3-on-3 basketball tournament.”
Oh, did I mention that there are also two football games to be played? Yes, there are. Even after all of the other special events, the real action takes place December 23rd and 30th on Jack Murphy Field inside Qualcomm Stadium between traditional college football powers.
Don’t get me started about the activities that surround just the football games. I do not have enough space to capture the pageantry, fun and entertainment that is provided for the players, fans and tens of thousands of visitors of the two bowl games.
San Diego can take great pride in the work of the SDBGA and for the economic impact their efforts have on the community. It is a tremendous accomplishment for an organization to stage two major bowl games that have sterling reputations. The next time you participate in any of the SDBGA events or attend a bowl game, take a step back and think about the accomplishments of the hard working group behind-the-scenes and experience that you are enjoying.
Jonathan Greene is the Executive & Online Editor for
North County Sports Magazine