The game will officially get a name once sponsorship agreements are in place. Lions president Tom Lewand said in a conference call Wednesday that the organization is in talks with potential national and regional title sponsors.
The hope is for the game to be played on Dec. 30, pending the television broadcast schedule, and will feature the Big Ten and a conference to be named later, but it’s expected that will be the ACC.
This is an important first step for the organization and Ford Field and it’s future in the college football landscape.
The Lions become only the second NFL team (Houston Texans, 2006) to officially host and operate a college football bowl game.
It now opens the door down the line to potentially host a Big Ten Championship Game and possibly even a college football playoff game at Ford Field.
“You do have to walk before you run,” Lewand told WXYT shortly after the announcement. “But it’s important that you get in the arena to start walking. We’re in the arena with this, and yeah, we’d like to expand our relationship with the Big Ten as we go forward, but this is the first step towards that.
“We’re looking at a very proactive and progressive relationship that will allow us to build a number of different things, not necessarily just the college playoffs, but there are other opportunities that could certainly develop as a result of this and I think those are all things that are exciting more for our city.”
The immediate challenge for the Lions is to pull off a terrific bowl experience in a city that hasn’t ever been a traditional destination city for college Bowl Games.
“The challenge for us is what’s on the slate,” Lewand said. “If we don’t meet that challenge successfully then we can’t even look at those things down the road.
“Like I said, we’re in the arena, we start walking, we’ll walk as well as we can and hope that successful walk allows us to start jogging and running down the road.”
The Lions entertainment division, DLI Entertainment, has promoted multiple large scale shows and events at Ford Field, including The Basketbowl (2003), the 2008 NCAA Men’s Basketball Regionals, the 2009 NCAA Men’s Basketball Final Four and the 2010 NCAA Men’s Ice Hockey Frozen Four.