On December 30, 2015 at 6:00pm CST the annual Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl will kick off for the 18th time in its history. Let’s take a look at 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 collegiate Bowl game. During this time the city was building a new football stadium in downtown for the relocated Houston Oilers (now Tennessee Titans) who would kick off their inaugural season in Nashville in 1998. The City of Nashville was also making a name across the country as a premier hospitality and entertainment destination, making the city desirable to many college football fans.
After much consideration, the Nashville Sports Council and the city of Nashville decided to take on a post-season Bowl game and Music City Bowl, Inc. was born. A lot of key partners such as the Mayor's Office, Nashville Convention & Visitors Corporation 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, and 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 featuring Virginia Tech defeating Alabama 38-7 in front of a sold-out crowd. The game was broadcast on ESPN in over 1.8 million households across the country. ESPN has been a proud broadcast partner since the inception of the Bowl and currently holds an agreement through 2025.
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 new conference partnerships with the SEC and the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) beginning in 2006 through 2013. In 2014 the Bowl entered a new 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.
While conference partners were investing in the Bowl, so were local businesses. Beginning in 2002, Gaylord Hotels 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. In 2010, Franklin American Mortgage Company, a local mortgage company based out of Franklin, TN, signed on as title sponsor. The Bowl is now known as the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl with an agreement in place through 2019.
Other previous sponsors included American General Life & Accident (now a subsidiary of AIG) in the inaugural 1998 game, and the now-defunct "homepoint.com" in the 1999 game.
In its relatively short lifespan, the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl has established itself as one of college football’s premier Bowl destinations. Over the last ten years, the Bowl has averaged over 58,000 fans in the stands with an average of 2.8 million fans tuning in nationally via ESPN. Since its inception, the Bowl has generated over $250 million in direct economic impact and has been a boon to the city in what was formerly one of the slowest tourism weeks of the year.
Get ready to Face the Music on December 30th, 2015 in Primetime at 6:00pm CST in this year’s Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl. Tickets are on sale now through Ticketmaster. For the most up to date information be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook at Music City Bowl and on Instagram at MCBowl.