The Bahamas Bowl found a new sponsor. And no, it’s not going back to Popeyes. It won’t even be sponsored by a company.
The bowl’s new sponsor is a suburb of Chicago.
Elk Grove Village, a community of more than 30,000 people located adjacent to Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, is now the title sponsor of the bowl game — which will be named after its business slogan, “Makers Wanted.”
The Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl will be played on December 21, 2018 at Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium in Nassau, Bahamas. Elk Grove Village, which is home to the largest contiguous industrial park in the country, will become the first non-tourist municipality to sponsor a bowl game in history.
“We are excited to have Elk Grove Village as the title sponsor of the Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl,” Richard Giannini, the executive director of the Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl, told ESPN. “It is a unique sponsorship that allows Elk Grove Village and its thriving business community to take the Makers Wanted message to a national audience on ESPN. We thank Mayor Craig Johnson for his innovative vision, and we look forward to another great bowl game this year.”
Elk Grove Village is home to more than 5,600 businesses, 300 manufacturers and two million square feet of data centers. And now one college football bowl game — sort of.
The idea came to Mayor Craig Johnson, who was born and raised in Elk Grove Village, simply when he was watching games last year.
“Last season, I was watching all these bowl games for four straight days,” Johnson told Forbes. “And as I was watching one of the smaller bowl games, I could just see our slogan painted on the field.”
Once he convinced his wife and his staff that he wasn’t crazy, they finally got behind the idea — which Johnson said will increase his towns’ exposure on a massive scale.
“Sports are one of the last things people watch live,” Johnson told Forbes. “Leading up to the game, ESPN will be referencing the ‘Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl’ multiple times, allowing millions to hear our slogan.
“People will be curious and they’ll Google ‘Makers Wanted’ and our town will pop right up.”
The fifth-annual game, which is owned by ESPN, features teams from Conference USA and the Mid-American Conference. Ohio dominated UAB in the game last season 41-6.
Now, the deal is just for one year, but Johnson has an option for the village to renew for a second season if the first is a success.
And even though it isn’t one of the major bowl games on the slate each holiday season, the game in the Bahamas could be the perfect spot for a town like Elk Grove Village.
“Our relationship with the Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl and ESPN Events is a perfect opportunity to use college football to share our message with the entire country,” Johnson told ESPN. “We were impressed by how the bowl game has been developed in the Bahamas over the past four years, and we share in the excitement that this event brings to their community.”
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