The Fast, Furious, Frustrating History of the Heritage Bowl (Part I)

The Heritage Bowl was a decade-long experiment to build the ultimate HBCU football bowl. It did NOT go smoothly.

Initially, the game was to be played after the playoffs, however, it didn’t quite work out that way. Heritage Bowl I was originally set for Dec. 28 in Joe Robbie Stadium, but had to move back to Dec. 21 because of a conflict with the Blockbuster Bowl. See, kids, there used to be this thing called video stores…never mind.

The date coincided with the start of the Division I-AA playoffs, which threatened to end it. So did conflict with locals. The Miami-Dade and Fort Lauderdale branches of the NAACP asked that the game be played elsewhere, claiming that the stadium hurt their property values. Eventually, the two came to an understanding and the game was on, but perhaps it was forboding of a less-than-stellar start to the bowl game.

To put it nicely, the first game was a flop from top to bottom. The game put Alabama State against MEAC co-champion North Carolina A&T, led by MEAC Offensive Player of The Year Connell Maynor. It ended in a 39-13 route for Alabama State.  A crowd of 30-40k was expected in the 73k seat stadium that that day, however only 7,724 fans attended the game. 

The game was reported to have been a $300,000 loss. The schools reportedly received just $100k of the $150k they were promised by organizers. Both conferences were still waiting on their $50k and hotels had also not been paid months later.

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The Fast, Furious, Frustrating History of the Heritage Bowl (Part I)
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