What’s old is new again, and while it may be a very long time until the Bacardi Bowl marks the return to college football to Havana, the sport will indeed be returning to the Caribbean in the form of the Bahamas Bowl, which is scheduled to kick off its inaugural game in 2014.
“The Mid-American Conference is proud to partner in the creation of the Bahamas Bowl beginning with the 2014 season and to feature the only bowl game outside of the United States,” said MAC commissioner John Steinbrecher in a press release. “This will truly be a one-of-its-kind bowl experience for our student-athletes, coaches and fans. The Thomas A. Robinson Stadium will be a wonderful host venue and the accommodations with the Atlantis Resort will certainly be a destination to reward our football programs.”
The MAC, Mountain West, American Athletic, Conference USA and the Sun Belt will rotate participation in the event, which will be played in the Bahamas national soccer and track and field facility, which has been expanded from a 15,000 seat capacity to hold 30,000 fans.
There are also may be other international bowl games on the horizon, as Brett McMurphy of ESPN reported in the summer:
As many as nine locations are under consideration to begin bowl games in 2014, according to sources: Miami, Orlando, Little Rock, Ark.; Boca Raton, Fla.; Montgomery, Ala.; Los Angeles; Ireland; Dubai and either Toronto or Nassau, Bahamas.
These games would be held between the s0-called “Group of Five” conferences, which are the smaller conferences effectively locked out of the top bowl games by the five power conferences (the ACC, SEC, Big 12, B1G and PAC-12.) As The Big Lead points out, Dubai could present some potential problems for their ambitious plans:
Dubai specifically could present some political issues. That would mean playing in a country that (a) does not recognize Israel and bars Israeli citizens and (b) outlaws homosexuality. FIFA [the world’s governing body for soccer, which is the globe’s most popular sport] can get away with that. American colleges need to be more accountable.
Given the firestorm that might create, it might be easier for the Group of Five to book Estadio Pedro Marrero in Havana for its next international venture.