Conference USA Is Taking Over TicketCity Bowl (Which Will Feature Houston and Penn State)

Far as lower-tier bowl games go, the second-ever TicketCity Bowl -- to be played January 2 at 11 a.m. at the Cotton Bowl -- is about as intriguing as it gets: The University of Houston (so, so, so close -- a one-loss team, thanks to Southern Miss over the weekend) will take on Penn State (well, you know). Save for the up-close seats tickets appear to be plentiful as of this morning, running between $25 and $125.

UH head coach Kevin Sumlin's happy with the selection (at least as happy as he can be one win short of a BCS bowl): "We broke the attendance record at Robertson Stadium and to play against Penn State in a great venue such as the Cotton Bowl will bring back some special memories for our university." Penn State, incidentally, "will use revenues received from our Big Ten Conference bowl payout to support our recently announced partnership with the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape and the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, as well as other related initiatives."

Coincidentally, or not, the TicketCityBowl happens to be on the council Economic Development Committee's agenda this morning. The reason: The city needs to alter its deal for the Fair Park bowl game. In April 2010, the city signed on to provide financial support for founder Tom Starr's Football Starr Inc., entering into an escrow and contingent grant agreement with Comerica Bank "to induce the bank to provide a $2 million letter of credit to the benefit of the NCAA and assigned to the teams selected to play in the Bowl Game, as a backup support for the Host's promised payments to the teams for participating in the TicketCity Football Classic." Earlier this year, the city also committed 'round $58,000 toward marketing the game each year through 2018.

But per this morning's briefing, Conference USA is taking over as the contracted lessee for the 2012 game. The reason: C-USA "has a strong interest in this market for recruiting purposes and has offered to take the lead to help ensure the future viability of the Bowl," which not so long ago appeared in jeopardy of losing its license. Interesting tidbit from the briefing: "The Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau estimated the economic impact of the 2011 TicketCity Bowl at $11,001,359." That's quite the precise estimate.

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