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How Nashville's Holiday Tradition was established
In early 1997, the Nashville Sports Council began discussions with the Southeastern Conference (SEC) about hosting a post-season college Bowl game. There were several reasons that factored into the discussions: Nashville is known as a destination city, it's easily accessible to a majority of universities in a number of conferences, and a brand new stadium was being built for a new NFL franchise, the Tennessee Titans. Furthermore, Nashville is one of the best cities in the country for hospitality and entertainment. Known as Music City, Nashville has several opportunities to offer the college football fan, university administrator, corporate sponsor, and local resident.
After taking these points into consideration, the Nashville Sports Council and the city of Nashville decided to take on the challenge and Music City Bowl, Inc. was born. A lot of key partners, such as the Mayor's Office, Nashville Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, were instrumental in creating the Bowl. Other partnerships included a four-year agreement with ESPN to broadcast the game nationally, a four-year agreement with the SEC and in 1999, a three-year agreement with the Big East Conference. After the months spent planning and organizing, the Inaugural Music City Bowl was held on December 29, 1998 at Vanderbilt Stadium.
In 1999, the stadium for the Tennessee Titans was completed and the game moved to its current home at Nissan Stadium. In 2000, the Bowl took a new direction signing a four-year deal with the Big Ten Conference to replace the Big East starting with the 2002 game to play against the SEC. Then in 2005, the Bowl announced a new conference partnership with the SEC and the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) beginning in 2006 through 2009. Beginning in 2002, Gaylord Hotels (a division of Gaylord Entertainment Company) agreed to serve as title sponsor of the Bowl and the Bowl name was changed to the Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl. In 2003, Bridgestone, a locally headquartered international company, officially became the Presenting Sponsor of the Bowl in 2003 which continued through 2007. The current title sponsor of the Bowl is Franklin American Mortgage.
The Future of the Bowl
Starting in 2014, the Bowl showcased the extended partnership between the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) and the Southeastern Conference (SEC) with the introduction of the Big Ten as a third conference partner in Nashville. As announced in July 2014, the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl and TaxSlayer Bowl have agreed to share selections with the Big Ten Conference and ACC to provide an opponent to the SEC through 2019. More information on this new and improved selection process can be found on our Selection Process page.
The Bowl has had some major accomplishments adding to its success and has solidified its position as one of Nashville's most important events. Beginning with the 2008 Bowl, a partnership was created with the Greater Nashville Hotel & Lodging Association and the City of Nashville for the Bowl to receive funding via the Event and Marketing Fund. These funds are part of a hotel/motel tax created for the purpose of developing Nashville's new state of the art Music City Center. The Bowl is now a part of the fabric of the Nashville community. Key initiatives such as economic development, tourism impact, quality of life enhancement, a focus on youth, and a commitment to collegiate athletics are all part of the Bowl experience.
The Bowl in just a few short years has turned one of Nashville's slowest tourism weeks into one of the busiest, as well as supported various charitable organizations through ticket donation, special community programs, and much more. Moreover, the Bowl has one of the most successful youth initiatives in the country with its Youth Football Program. The Bowl's Youth Football Program reaches families in eighty communities in Middle Tennessee, southern Kentucky, and northern Alabama. More than 20,000 participants are part of a unique program that involves players, cheerleaders, and coaches with Nashville's Holiday Tradition. Finally the bottom line, since the Bowl's inception, millions of viewers have watched the event on ESPN; the Bowl has contributed $34 million in financial payouts to participating universities; and has generated more than $207 million in economic impact for the Nashville community. Nashville's Bowl game will continue to evolve as a cornerstone event for Music City and the Middle Tennessee region.