While the annual Popeyes Bahamas Bowl has quickly become a must-see event with respect to the American college teams on the field, it hasn’t exactly translated that belief into the local spectators.
For a second consecutive year a seasoned statistician could quickly put pen to paper and surmise that fan bases for both teams accounted for majority of the spectators at the game.
Official attendance was listed at 13,123 but if we discount the fans of both universities, the players and coaches that roamed the sidelines may have outnumbered Bahamains at the Thomas A Robinson National Stadium on Christmas Eve.
During last year’s inaugural game social media websites were plastered with content referencing the games dismal turnout, desperately needing Central Michigan’s miracle play in the final stages to rescue the headlines. Sad to say the least.
This year was suppose to set a new trend; this one was suppose to fill the stadium and mark the Popeyes Bahamas Bowl as a staple on the holiday calendar. Wishful thinking, Right?
We had all the valuable points check off on our prep sheet for the 2015 version of the game.
Schools with Bahamian connection, checked.
Free tickets, checked.
Signage posted across the capital, checked.
Broadcast hype, checked.
Pregame and halftime entertainment, checked.
Ensure that a restaurant of the same title comes in with good food to secure brand loyalty, checked.
In the weeks leading up to the second annual Popeyes Bahamas Bowl, Tourism Minister Obie Wilchcombe and his sporting counter part Daniel Johnson told everyone that would listen that their respective ministries would leave no stone unturned in their quest to ensured a packed stadium.
Talk of youth programs receiving ticket packages free of charge and complimentary tickets being handed out during government functions abounded. Even the halftime Junkanoo battle between the Valley Boys and Saxsons was promoted. Sons counting down where put in place in most high traffic areas.
All for nought.
The Mid-American Conference (MAC) and Conference USA (CUSA) have given the Bahamas two gems over the last two years. Designated as a win-win for both sides, the conferences have gotten a highly marketable product in exchange for giving the Bahamas a major sporting draw to bolster its “Heads-in-beds” tourism plan. But, so far, this has been a totally lopsided deal.
One amazing fact that is just as equally strange is that Bahamians have managed to block an entire roadway for three conductive weeks for chicken, but couldn’t go through a “free ticket outing” adequately filling one sure of the national stadium.
The truth about this bowl game we have all come to love was painstakingly unavoidable during and after Thursday’s “well-played” match – The Bahamas is still isn’t ‘Bowl Ready’.
This year was no different to 2014.
Here are some of the social media responses – “Missed opproutinuty for Popeyes here, they could have set some sort of tarp record with more ambition,” stated one poster poking fun at organizers’ attempt to cover up the now commonly bare east grandstand.
“The #BahamasBowl: Made-for-TV and criminally unattended,” was added for some clarity.
Western Michigan’s 45-31 “gut check” victory over the Blue Raiders of Middle Tennessee State certainly delivered on all the hype it promised but not even Jamauri Bogan’s record setting day could have sweeten this bitter truth – there is not a lot of Bahamians in the Popeyes Bahamas Bowl game.