"The Worst College Bowl Sponsors" [usnews.com] included the Chick-fil-A Bowl on the list. The moniker of "worst" could not be further from the truth when it comes to the Chick-fil-A Bowl. The Chick-fil-A Bowl is the ninth-oldest bowl game in college football. Originally called the Peach Bowl, the game has been an Atlanta tradition sine 1968, when LSU defeated Florida State in front of roughly 35,000 fans. We've grown a lot since then. On New Year's Eve, we will host our 13th straight sellout of the 71,000-seat Georgia Dome and millions more will watch on ESPN. Like other bowls, the Chick-fil-A Bowl is set up to do three things—drive tourism for the local community, raise money for charity, and provide unique experiences for student-athletes. Judging by these measures, the Chick-fil-A Bowl is among the most successful bowl games in the country. Tourism: Our 13th consecutive sellout trails only the Rose Bowl presented by Citi and the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl for longest consecutive streaks. The fans that pour into Atlanta produce an estimated economic impact of more than $30 million, including $1.2 million in direct tax revenue. But that is just half of the impact. Our bowl also hosts the Chick-fil-A College Kickoff to open each season. This game annually pits two of the country's top teams in a game that has been billed the "Daytona 500 of College Football." Total annual impact: more than $60 million. Charity: The Chick-fil-A Bowl leads all bowl games in charitable and scholarship contributions. Last year, the bowl contributed a record $1.2 million to charities and educational institutions and will match that number again this year. The Chick-fil-A Bowl has provided $5.8 million in charitable and scholarship contributions in the last eight years alone, including an additional $100,000 to the Hokie Spirit Memorial Fund in the wake of the 2008 tragedy on Virginia Tech's campus and a $100,000 donation to the Louisiana State Hurricane Student Relief Fund following Hurricane Katrina. Other organizations to receive significant funding from the bowl include WinShape Homes, Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, Georgia Lion's Lighthouse Foundation, and the National Kidney Foundation. Experience: Year after year we hear that players, coaches, and their families love coming to Atlanta. The Bowl Week is more than just practices and a game. Players experience the best Atlanta has to offer, including visits to the Georgia Aquarium and the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial. Players' lives are enriched by their time in the city for the Chick-fil-A Bowl, and we wouldn't have it any other way. None of the items listed happen without the financial support of a title sponsor, even if your writer Rick Newman finds the name odd. Having a name that is a little out of the ordinary is nothing new to Chick-fil-A, our 43-year-old, rapidly expanding title sponsor. In fact, people have been wondering about the name since they opened their first restaurant in 1967, but it hasn't slowed them down one bit. The company is now one of the largest privately-held restaurant chains in America, with more than 1,400 locations and more than $3 billion in annual sales. When Chick-fil-A first approached us about sponsoring the game, they were a regional brand with an eye toward national expansion. They saw college sports as a vehicle to drive that growth, but it also provided a way to expose players and fans to the values of the Chick-fil-A organization. Our game was struggling with low attendance and the financial support was drying up. Like most of our games, it was a perfect match! Chick-fil-A leveraged its sponsorship to expand its brand nationwide and the bowl has been able to raise its profile and expand its reach. In addition to the bowl, Chick-fil-A has also partnered with us to operate the Chick-fil-A College Kickoff and Chick-fil-A Bowl Challenge (a golf tournament where college coaches and famous alumni raise money for their schools). Chick-fil-A was also instrumental in working with us to bring the National Football Foundation's college Football Hall of Fame to Atlanta. In his piece, Newman said, "The marketing geniuses who ink these sponsorship deals mainly care about just one thing—getting the corporate name in front of the masses." When it comes to our bowl, that statement is just not accurate. While brand recognition is important, it is only one part of a sports sponsorship. Any branding expert will tell you that it is important to align your company's name with events that reach your customer base, align with your values, and give you a platform to support causes important to your organization. We believe that our game achieves this for Chick-fil-A and does much more.
Gary Stokan Chick-fil-A Bowl President and CEO Atlanta
"The Worst Bowl Sponsors" was hilarious! I laughed so hard I could barely keep my morning coffee in my mouth! Rick Newman needs to be on one of these football pregame shows, spouting out this information. I'm sending this article via E-mail to my husband who is serving in Iraq. He will roll when he reads it! Thanks for some needed holiday humor!
Lauren Kelly-Hill Richlands, N.C.
Do you think people care what their bowl is called? These kids are all given an opportunity of a lifetime being able to play in a bowl type atmosphere and all you have to write about is what the name of the bowl is called? Try writing an article of how important it is for companies like Chick-fil-A, Outback, or any other sponsor to put their time and money into an event like this, giving college kids the opportunity to play in front of 100,000 fans and be nationally publicized.
Comment by Vinnie Fayard of CA
I grew up in Georgia, and at every football game or Super Bowl party I always remember the gigantic plate of Chick-fil-A chicken in the kitchen right next to the cooler full of beer. In my mind, the Chick-fil-A Bowl is a perfect bowl name. Chick-fil-A is not like most fast-food places. It closes on Sunday because it is a Christian company. Over the years, Chick-fil-A has been a sponsor for many high schools throughout the country and has been very supportive toward the nation's high schools and athletic programs.
Comment by Brayden Knudson of GA
Regarding "The Worst Bowl Sponsors" and "The Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl": I have witnessed Bell Helicopter employees work nonstop seven days a week in order to keep the Army, Navy, and Air Force supplied with parts and equipment and for you to downplay their wanting a little acknowledgment for their hard efforts spent away from families is despicable and unjustified, many of those employees being veterans themselves.
Chris Warren Fort Worth, Texas