The gridiron escapees from winter-locked Michigan and Nebraska who will meet Wednesday in Tempe, Ariz., for the nation's fifth largest collegiate bowl game will be taking back with them a greater financial return for their universities from the new Sunkist Fiesta Bowl than any of the 15 previous Fiesta Bowls ever returned.
The 6,000 citrus growers who market their Arizona and California crops through Sherman Oaks-based Sunkist Growers signed a five-year agreement with the Fiesta Bowl management last fall that added Sunkist to the name of the game. In return, Sunkist increased its long-standing sponsorship of the post-season contest enough to boost the payoff to $1.1 million for each participating institution, a 25% increase over 1985. By 1990, the sum is to grow to $2 million per team.
According to bowl officials, the increased payoffs will enhance their ability to attract top teams to Tempe. The Rose Bowl generates about $6 million for the participating teams, the Sugar Bowl $2.1 million and the Orange Bowl $2 million.
Sunkist's affiliation reportedly is a first in sponsorship of bowl games, but it leaves all aspects of the running of the event--including team selection--to the bowl's managers. In a statement, the cooperative likened its support to that offered by many of 32 official sponsors of the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles and hundreds of other businesses that contributed in one way or another to the Olympiad.