There were a lot of naysayers five years ago when the Yankees and their co-sponsor, New Era, announced that they would be starting an annual college football bowl game to be called the Pinstripe Bowl. It would be the first college bowl game in the New York area since the very short-lived Gotham Bowl in 1962.
As is generally the case, Yankees management knew what it was doing. The Pinstripe Bowl has arguably become the premier college bowl game that is played prior to Jan. 1, judging by game attendance. Yankees Chief Operating Officer Lonn Trost happily reported that Saturday’s game between Notre Dame and Rutgers had an advance sale of 47,000 tickets, a Pinstripe Bowl record. He gleefully added that the Super Bowl Host Committee was very jealous of the 50-degree-plus sunny weather for the game.
Yankees President Randy Levine estimated the positive economic impact of the 2013 Pinstripe Bowl to be approximately $25 million for New York City, primarily because of the number of Notre Dame alumni across the country who travel anywhere the Fighting Irish play.
Notre Dame, which a year ago was playing Alabama for the national championship, had too much talent for Rutgers to overcome as the Irish won the game 29-16. The loss did not appear to diminish the enthusiasm of Scarlet Knights head coach Kyle Flood, who grew up in Bayside and is a St. Francis Prep alumnus.
“I grew up 10 minutes from Shea Stadium but I never got to see the Jets play there. I have to tell you that I was a Yankees fan even though my brother rooted for the Jets!” he said with a huge grin.
With the Pinstripe Bowl behind them, the Yankees will turn their energies to getting the Stadium ready for a pair of outdoor National Hockey League games during Super Bowl Week, when the Devils will take on the Rangers in one game while the Islanders play the Rangers in the other.
All of which makes one wonder why the Mets, who are not as flush with financial resources as the Yankees are, do not make better use of Citi Field during the off-season. Just about the only cold-weather event that I can recall taking place in the five-year history of Citi Field was a collegiate lacrosse tournament held last St. Patrick’s Day.
Football fans will certainly miss listening to CBS analyst Dan Dierdorf, who is retiring after a stellar NFL playing and broadcasting career. Dierdorf was to pro football what Tim McCarver, who also retired in 2013, was to baseball.
I’ll write about Rex Ryan and the Jets in next week’s column.