The 43rd annual Holiday Bowl is off the table this year, event officials announced Thursday, citing complications presented by the coronavirus pandemic.
“This has been the most difficult decision our Board has ever had to make since our bowl game started in 1978,” said Holiday Bowl CEO Mark Neville. “While it’s not the decision we wanted to make, it’s the right decision for our non-profit association and the community for the long term.”
This year's Holiday Bowl was supposed to be the start of something new: the first game in a six-year contract inked with the Pac-12 and ACC conferences.
Holiday Bowl officials said the game's objective is to attract tourism to San Diego. According to a press release announcing the cancellation, the Holiday Bowl brings, on average, a $31 million boost to the local economy every December, which is typically a down period for tourism.
“This decision was particularly difficult because our tourism industry has taken such a hit due to the pandemic,” Neville said. “The virus has created a situation in that we wouldn’t be able to welcome fans, ultimately resulting in no tourism. Couple that with the financial and potential health risks of trying to play the game during this pandemic and it was clear this was the right decision for us.”
With the big game cancelled, the Port of San Diego Holiday Bowl Parade will also be taking this year off, according to organizers.
“With the support of our volunteers, sponsors, conferences and our broadcast partner, the game will return in 2021 stronger than ever and with unparalleled enthusiasm,” said 2020 Bowl Association President Dan Moore. “We are fortunate to have a strong relationship with our title sponsor SDCCU, FOX Sports, the ACC, the Pac-12 and many others. While we all share the disappointment with the decision, each has been understanding and very supportive.”