The Celebration Bowl and MEAC/SWAC Challenge have a new, consistent sponsor for the foreseeable future.
Cricket Wireless has signed on as a sponsor for both games, owned by ESPN Events.
“We are delighted to have Cricket Wireless as the title sponsor of both our football kickoff and bowl games,” John Grant, executive director for the MEAC/SWAC Challenge Kickoff and Celebration Bowl said on Wednesday. “These events provide valuable diversity to the sports offerings in the city of Atlanta. This relationship reflects our mutual passion for and appreciation of Historically Black Colleges and Universities and the valuable contributions they make to our nation. We look forward to working together and building world-class events in a world-class city.”
ESPN Events’ relationship with Cricket began with the sponsorship of the 2018 Celebration Bowl. Cricket’s support of HBCUs began with an agreement with Southern University, which eventually expanded to include sponsorship of the Magic City Classic and Bayou Classic. In October 2020, Cricket and the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) announced a sponsorship agreement extension through 2023.
“At Cricket, we’re all about creating a meaningful connection with our customers and within the communities where we operate,” said Tiffany Baehman, vice president and chief marketing officer, Cricket Wireless. “Our extended relationship with ESPN allows us to continue to introduce our brand to HBCU students, alumni and fans. It also means that we can help amplify the rich culture and legacy of HBCUs, and the positive impact they have within the Black community.”
Cricket brings stability to Celebration Bowl
The Celebration Bowl has only had one title sponsor since its inception five years ago. The Air Force Reserve sponsored the first two games in 2015 and 2016, but did not sponsor the game in 2017. Grant said its position as a government agency prevented it from making multi-year agreements.
“You’re going in from one year to the next working hard on making sure that you had a title sponsor to really give an established brand over the long term. That is what this does,” Grant said.
“It really gives us the opportunity to solidify both these properties, link them together, make Atlanta ground zero for the HBCU football platform, and then make sure we have the ability to return the maximum value back to our partners.”
The Celebration Bowl, in addition to the MEAC/SWAC Challenge, were canceled for 2020 after both the MEAC and SWAC suspended football for the fall.