The Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl is moving to a new home.
Bowl organizers, the Santa Clara Stadium Authority (SCSA) and the San Francisco 49ers today confirmed in an afternoon press conference that the annual Bay Area postseason college football game will move to the New Santa Clara Stadium beginning in December 2014.
Construction of the new state-of-the-art home for the San Francisco 49ers is well underway, with more than 20 percent of the total project already completed. The first 49ers game in the new building will take place in August 2014, and will now be followed by the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl four months later. Seating capacity at the new stadium is set for 68,500, with 9,000 club seats and 165 luxury suites.
From its inception in 2002, the Bowl game has been played at AT&T Park in downtown San Francisco. Each year, at the conclusion of the San Francisco Giants playing season, AT&T Park has been transformed into a football venue. In just over a decade’s time, the Bay Area’s Bowl game grew from infancy to its rightful place as one of the 35-game bowl constellation’s brightest stars.
Gary Cavalli, Bowl co-founder and the only Executive Director in its history, said today that a number of factors entered into the decision to change game venues.
"This is an exciting, historic moment for the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl," Cavalli said. "Moving to the 49ers' new state of the art stadium in Santa Clara is an opportunity to take our Bowl to the next level. The college football landscape has changed dramatically in recent months with a revamped post-season structure and ongoing conference realignment. This beautiful new venue will give us the ability to attract better teams, secure additional sponsorship support, and grow the game.
"The teams that participate in the Bowl will have the opportunity to play in a world-class NFL stadium that in all likelihood will host the Super Bowl, and fans who attend the game will have all the amenities of a premier football facility full of technological advancements. That combination is going to make our Bowl a more desirable destination for college football teams throughout the country and fans throughout the Bay Area. It's a real game-changer for us."
The Bowl’s game week activities and team hotels will remain in San Francisco, while on game day, teams and fans will also have a chance to experience Santa Clara and Silicon Valley.
49ers Chief Executive Officer Jed York has been the driving force behind the team’s efforts to find a new home venue in Santa Clara. He graciously welcomed the Bay Area’s Bowl game as the first non-49ers event to be scheduled in the new building.
“The 49ers are very excited that an established college football game such as the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl has become the first special event to commit to the New Santa Clara Stadium,” said York. “We look forward to facilitating world-class sports and entertainment events in a stadium that we anticipate becoming one of the world’s premier outdoor venues. This facility will bring together all that is special about the Bay Area and Silicon Valley to deliver an unequalled user experience.”
In March of 2012, the SCSA hired Forty Niners Stadium Management Company LLC to manage the new stadium and recently authorized it to enter into contracts for non-NFL events, such as the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, and to procure necessary services to operate the stadium on behalf of the SCSA.
Jamie L. Matthews is in his first term as Mayor of Santa Clara. In addition to his mayoral responsibilities, Matthews is also a Board member of the Santa Clara Stadium Authority.
“We are excited to have college football again in the City of Santa Clara, with a nod to a rich tradition dating back to Buck Shaw and Santa Clara University,” said Matthews. “It is a bit of tradition while offering a state-of-the-art game day experience in college football. This is an excellent example of a non-NFL event signing on with the new stadium and how the stadium is looking forward to booking more sports and entertainment events in the future.”
The Pac-12 Conference, newly-aligned from the former Pac-10 with the addition of Utah and Colorado in 2011, has long been the Bowl’s “anchor” conference. The first Pac-12 team to play in the game was UCLA in 2006 in a historic matchup with Florida State of the ACC.
Since then, Pac-12 members Oregon State, California, USC and UCLA again have played to the Bay Area’s substantial fan base.
This year’s game is Saturday, December 29th with a 1 p.m. kickoff and will be televised nationally on ESPN2. Navy, which played in the game in 2004, will meet a team from the Pac-12 that will be determined after the conference championship game on November 30. This year’s game and the 2013 contest will be played at AT&T Park.