DETROIT — The Big Ten Conference has entered into a six-year partnership with the Detroit Lions for a bowl game to be played annually at Ford Field beginning in 2014, the NFL team announced Wednesday.
The new bowl has not been named or sponsored, but the bowl's inaugural game is tentatively scheduled for Dec. 30, 2014.
“We are thrilled to be hosting a new bowl game in Detroit that will be anchored by an annual commitment from the Big Ten,” said Detroit Lions President Tom Lewand in a press release. “In addition to showcasing our city and its rich football tradition, this game will be an opportunity for fans to enjoy a postseason matchup featuring one of college football's best conferences.”
A person familiar with the situation told the Associated Press that the Atlantic Coast Conference is expected to provide the opponent. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because a formal announcement had not been made.
“We are pleased to join with the Detroit Lions in creating this new postseason bowl game in Detroit,” Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany said in the release. “The city of Detroit has played host to as many big-time sporting events as any other major city in America, from NCAA men's basketball Final Four and regional games to the Super Bowl, World Series and NBA Finals. The support of the business and community leaders of Detroit coupled with a world-class facility in Ford Field and Detroit Lions' management of the game will result in a meaningful experience for Big Ten teams and their fans.”
The new game could spell the end for the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl, which has been played in Detroit and tried to match the Big Ten and Mid-American Conference. The Big Ten often would not have enough bowl-eligible teams to send one to the Little Caesars Bowl.
Ken Hoffman, the executive director of the Little Caesars Bowl, did not return a message seeking comment.
The Little Caesars Bowl has been held at Ford Field since 2002. The game was originally called the Motor City Bowl and held at the Silverdome.
MAC Commissioner Jon Steinbrecher said the announcement of the new Detroit bowl was not a surprise, and his league still looks forward to holding its championship game in Detroit. The 2014 season marks the beginning of the new College Football Playoff, leaving the rest of the bowl scene uncertain as far as which conferences will play where.