If the pro-football stadium measure makes it through the May 7 referendum, there’s a good chance that, shortly thereafter, Nashville will get word that it’s been selected as the site of a new bowl game involving a Southeastern Conference team.
Behind the scenes, a group of Nashvillians has been meeting to discuss the creation of a new bowl game that would pit the winner of the Mid-America Conference against the third-best team in the SEC. The top two SEC teams already play in other bowl games, but, the reasoning goes, with so many good SEC teams out there, why not spread the talent around?
So far, so goodeverybody knows about the glory of the SEC. What the heck, however, is the Mid-America Conference?
The Mid-America Conference includes the University of Akron in Ohio, Ball State University, Bowling Green State University, Central Michigan, Ohio University at Athens, the University of Toledo, Western Michigan University, Northern Illinois and Marshall University in West Virginia.
The first Nashville-based bowl game would probably be held in late December 1997. Nobody knows what the game will be called.
Some of the parties involved in the exploratory negotiations thus far are former Nashville Mayor Richard Fulton, who fielded an early phone call about the bowl game from the former Toledo Mayor Doug Allgood, who has been promoting the idea. Others who have been in on the talks regarding the project include Gaylord CEO Dick Evans, Sports Authority honcho Dick Lodge, SEC commissioner Roy Kramer, Mid-America Conference Commissioner Jerry Ippoliti, Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce president Mike Rollins, tourism meister Butch Spyridon and sports enthusiast Jenny Hannon.
Kramer is said to be interested in finding another bowl game for his growing SEC and is said to be looking for a stadium which is not already home to an SEC team.
One of the factors in Nashville’s favor is its location. Nashville is convenient to schools in both the Mid-America Conference and the SEC.
Meanwhile, elsewhere in the NFL
Paul Tagliabue, commissioner of the NFL, is slated to visit Nashville Monday to appear before several civic groups. The hope is that Tagliabue will give a boost to the Oilers May 7 referendum, as if any help is needed.
A Tennessean poll this week shows the issue in good shape, with 56 percent of Nashvillians saying they will vote yes in the referendum, 34 percent voting no, and 10 percent saying they’re undecided.
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