In an unprecedented move that would merge a pro football franchise with a college football staple, multiple sources are reporting that the Detroit Lions are in negotiations to start their own college football bowl game. The prospective game is currently nameless, but it is known that it would replace the Little Caesars Bowl starting in 2014, and that the game will take place at the current home of the Lions, Ford Field.
At first glance, this is a bit of a startling move. However, if the Lions can get a positive deal to use Ford Field (and I assume that they can), they could potentially produce a profitable enterprise out of the college bowl ranks. The Lions are already in negotiations with the Big Ten conference about an annual tie-in with the game, and they would replace the “Big 10 vs. MAC” format of the Little Caesars Bowl by bringing in the ACC (Atlantic Coast Conference) to produce the opponent.
There is always red tape in the bowl selection process (order of selections, conference tie-ins, etc.), but if Detroit can pull this off, it could be a win for the organization. There are some possible conflicts of interest within this (i.e. what if a team has a potential 1st-round draft pick there during the game?), but it’s a gamble that the Lions organization appears willing to take.
As the current proprietors of the Little Caesars Bowl can attest, the “bowl business” isn’t always a successful one. However, if the Lions can make this unique partnership work, it would not be a surprise to see more of the 32 NFL franchises following suit in the coming years.