The longest running international National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I bowl game is back for an eighth edition under a new title sponsor – HomeTown Lenders. Stakeholders of the event were in town on Friday and held a press conference to officially launch this year’s edition of the game.
The game, which is set for Friday, December 16 at the Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium, features teams from the Mid-American Conference (MAC) and Conference USA (C-USA) battling for the Prime Minister’s Cup here in The Bahamas.
The president of HomeTown Lenders John Taylor is a huge college football fan and saw the Bahamas Bowl as the right investment.
“We are incredibly excited and humbled for the opportunity,” Taylor said. “We have been looking forward to exactly the right scenario to invest in – not only a bowl game but also a community event, and we felt like this is one that puts us in a great option and will allow us to do a whole lot more than just sponsorship. The beauty of the island is amazing. I look forward to introducing all of our
employees to that and getting other folks to the island.”
HomeTown Lenders will sponsor the 2022, 2023 and 2024 editions of the game. Taylor is a University of Alabama Crimson Tide supporter in the Southeastern Conference (SEC), and said he is happy to be a part of the Bahamas Bowl.
“It is the first bowl game right after regular season. I have always watched the Bahamas Bowl and always thought that it would be cool to be a part of it. There has been some great games over the years. We look forward to hopefully getting some very good games for the next three years,” Taylor said.
Assistant Commissioner of C-USA Tre Stallings said his conference is excited that the bowl game is back.
“The chance for one of our member schools to come down and participate in the Bahamas Bowl is such a great experience that our student-athletes cannot take it for granted. Getting a passport for the first time for a lot of our student-athletes, and it being stamped, may be the last time some of their passports are going to be stamped. It is such a unique experience that every member institution looks forward to,” said Stallings.
Stallings said he is grateful to HomeTown Lenders for being the title sponsor, ensuring that the game is held.
“It kicks off the bowl season, so we look forward to setting the tempo and tone for college football for the bowl season. It is a highlight game for us and we need to make sure that we put our best foot forward in order to make it worthwhile,” said Stallings.
C-USA leads the MAC conference with a 4-3 win/loss record at the bowl. Middle Tennessee State, of C-USA, won the 2021 edition over Toledo, 31-24.
Atlantis is the hotel that will host both teams. It has been the host hotel since the bowl game’s inception in 2014. Senior Vice President at Atlantis Vaughn Roberts said the event is significant for the resort.
“We have been involved in it from the very beginning,” Roberts said. “This is our eighth year and we really enjoy hosting the players and their fans and teams in the middle of December, which is typically a slow period for us. This kicks off our winter season. We think that while it is good competition at the stadium, the players also get to relax and have fun at Atlantis and in and around Paradise Island.”
Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Tourism, Aviation and Investments Reginald Saunders thanked sponsors who have joined hands with the ministry to bring the excitement of American college football back to the islands of The Bahamas.
“Sports tourism is high on the priority list for The Bahamas. By its very nature, sports tourism is a catalyst to grow our overall tourism product. College football is a favorite among Americans and Bahamians alike and we embrace the return of the game,” Saunders said.
The game is once again set to be televised live on ESPN. It gets underway at 11:30 a.m. on Friday, December 16.