ESPN Lands Rights to New Era Pinstripe Bowl

ESPN has locked in the broadcast rights to a new bowl game that will be played at one of the most storied addresses in sports: East 161st Street & River Avenue, the Bronx.

Set to kick off in Yankee Stadium on Dec. 30, 2010, the inaugural New Era Pinstripe Bowl will pit the team with the third-best conference record in the Big East against the Big 12’s No. 6 club. The conference partners and New York Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner announced the formation of the bowl game in September 2009.

At the time, the partners introduced the new venture as the Yankee Bowl. The re-brand officially kicked in on Tuesday, when the ballclub signed New Era Cap Company to a four-year naming rights deal, extending a relationship with the Steinbrenner family that dates back to the early 1970s.

The deal brings post-season college football back to the Bronx for the first time since 1962, when Nebraska edged Miami 36-34 in the second annual Gotham Bowl. While inclement weather could make the game a tough sell, the Yankees and the NCAA appear confident that the Pinstripe Bowl will get a boost from the hordes of football fans who pour into New York on the 30th, in advance of New Year’s Eve.  

ESPN will control the rights to the New Era Pinstripe Bowl through 2015. The deal comes just a week after Bristol announced it had secured the rights to carry the Gator Bowl through 2014.

The addition of the Bronx-based game brings ESPN’s total bowl game tally to 32, a haul that includes all five Bowl Championship Series games (Rose, Orange, Sugar, Fiesta and the BCS National Championship Game). This year will mark the first time the cable network will carry the Div. I title game, the rights to which ABC-Disney landed in 2008.

All told, ESPN controls the rights to every bowl game but three, lacking only the Cotton Bowl (Fox, through 2013), Sun Bowl (CBS) and Insight Bowl (NFL Network).