NEW YORK (AP) — Kansas State and Syracuse will be ending bowl droughts when they meet in the Pinstripe Bowl later this month. Yankee Stadium will be, too.
The opulent ballpark in the Bronx, built just across the street from the original Yankee Stadium, will be the site of the inaugural game on Dec. 30. There hasn’t been an NCAA bowl game in the Bronx since the Gotham Bowl on Dec. 15, 1962, when Nebraska edged Miami 36-34.
The Wildcats (7-5) accepted an invitation to the game late Thursday night, after becoming bowl eligible for the first time since 2006. The Orange (7-5) accepted their invitation earlier this week, the first for Syracuse since 2004.
“Throughout his life, my father was a huge fan and supporter of college football,” Yankees managing partner Hal Steinbrenner said in a statement Friday, referring to the late George Steinbrenner. “We are proud to continue the storied tradition of the sport in Yankee Stadium.”
The precursor to the Pinstripe Bowl originated in New York City in 1960, but was canceled when no opponent could be found for Oregon State. The following year, Baylor defeated Utah State in the Polo Grounds, and the Gotham Bowl shifted to Yankee Stadium for the 1962 matchup.
That game was also plagued by trouble: a newspaper strike that hampered coverage in New York City; a late invitation extended to Nebraska, just 11 days before the game, created logistical problems; and damp, chilly weather on gameday that limited official attendance to about 6,000. The concept of a New York City-based bowl game was scrapped after that.
Although there is no guarantee the weather will be pleasant this December, the Pinstripe Bowl shouldn’t have to worry about attendance. Kansas State traditionally travels well to bowl games, and Syracuse lends the matchup some local flavor.
The schools have met twice before in bowl games, with the Wildcats winning the 1997 Fiesta Bowl and the Orange winning the 2001 Insight.com Bowl.
“The chance for our student-athletes, band members, cheerleaders and fans to experience New York City and compete in one of the most famous venues in all of sports is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Kansas State athletic director John Currie said.
“We look forward to turning the Big Apple purple.”
The Pinstripe Bowl was unveiled last September, pitting the Big 12 against the Big East over the next four years. The inaugural game will be the second college football game played in the new ballpark, after Notre Dame defeated Army 27-3 last month.
Kickoff is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. and the game will be televised by ESPN.
“When the announcement was made that a bowl game was going to be played in Yankee Stadium for the first time, my thought was that if we were not going to play in a BCS game, then how great would it be to play in the first college bowl game in Yankee Stadium in my first head coaching job?” Syracuse coach Doug Marrone said in a statement.
“New York state is our foundation,” said Marrone, whose grandfather was an usher for Yankees games. “This is another step in our return to prominence.”
Kansas State has only played in the state of New York twice, and not since 1966, while Syracuse has a rich football history in the area.
The Orange were 5-1 at the old Yankee Stadium, including a 3-0 victory against Pittsburgh in 1923 in the first college football game played there. Syracuse also played seven times at the Polo Grounds and had games at Shea Stadium in Queens and Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.
The Orange also have four future games slated for the New Meadowlands Stadium.
“It’s really a godsend. To say we’re excited is an understatement,” said Syracuse athletic director Darryl Gross, who has made it a priority to increase the school’s footprint in New York City. “We have a ton of fans there. People can start making plans.”