Holiday Bowl Gets Title Sponsor, Names Parade Grand Marshal

At nearly the last possible moment, the Holiday Bowl has found a title sponsor, as alternative lender National Funding stepped in with two weeks before the Dec. 30 game.

CEO Dave Gilbert, a 1997 University of Southern California alum, said Wednesday he was motivated to sponsor the game after he saw the matchup announced earlier this month between the USC Trojans and the University of Wisconsin Badgers.

“We felt it was a huge opportunity to support the community,” Gilbert said. “There’s no coincidence there’s some passion there.

This is the latest the San Diego Bowl Game Association, which organizes both the Holiday Bowl and the Poinsettia Bowl, has gone without a sponsor for the game since SeaWorld stepped up in 1986. The Holiday Bowl lacked a sponsor from its founding in 1978 until 1986. National University sponsored the past two games but didn’t renew this year.

National Funding’s sponsorship is only for the 2015 game. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed but Mark Neville, the association’s executive director, said it would be “safe to speculate” that sponsorship revenue this year was less than the low seven figures usually attached to the sponsorship.

With just two weeks before game day, it’s too late to change billboards to include National Funding’s logo, but radio, TV and print ads are more fluid, Neville said.

“As deadlines allow, we will be working our hardest to provide maximum visibility,” Neville said. “They really came in at the 11th hour.”

The association has said sponsorship issues won’t affect the game’s $5.93 million payout due to cash reserves.

Gilbert said it’s possible he may renew the sponsorship, but there wasn’t time for in-depth discussions about a long-term partnership during negotiations.

“We were in a rush to get this done,” Gilbert said.

The bowls had a combined economic impact of $35.3 million last year, according to a study from San Diego State University. The Holiday Bowl, with nearly 56,000 fans in attendance compared to the Poinsettia Bowl’s 33,000, represented more than $30 million of the impact.

Also on Wednesday, the Bowl Game Association said it was naming former executive director Bruce Binkowski as honorary chairman of this year’s National Funding Holiday Bowl. Binkowski, who is retiring after 37 years of service, the last 14 as executive director, will serve as grand marshal of the Holiday Bowl Parade.

The National Funding Holiday Bowl kicks off at 7:30 p.m.

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