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Arizona Bowl to be played without fans on New Year’s Eve

Arizona Bowl Photo

The sixth iteration of the NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl in Tucson will be played on New Year’s Eve as scheduled, but without fans in attendance.

The game will be broadcast at 2 p.m. local time on CBS Sports Network, according to the game’s Twitter account.

The Arizona Bowl pits teams from the Mountain West and MAC, after the latter replaced the Sun Belt Conference in 2020. It has been played at Arizona Stadium on the University of Arizona campus since its inception in 2015.

Last year’s game featured the University of Wyoming and Georgia State University, with the Cowboys winning that contest 38-17 in front of an announced crowd of 36,892 people.

The current bowl season has been pared down to 37 games between December and January, with the Holiday and RedBox bowls being cancelled earlier this month.

Five bowl games have been cancelled to-date as a direct result of the financial and health impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

The concert and block party that are associated with the bowl game have been cancelled, according to the Arizona Daily Star, with bowl director Kym Adair telling the newspaper that the news, while not great, is better than it could have been.

“It’s tough, but we’re living in a world where that’s the reality,” Adair told the Daily Star. “We’re happy to bring the student-athletes into town and give them the bowl experience.”

The Arizona Bowl’s return was aided by the Mountain West and MAC’s decision to play football this fall after originally opting to play an abridged spring schedule.

Adair told the Daily Star that the conferences’ decision to play this fall was crucial in giving them a green light this year, as they had two partner conference teams to choose from.

“It’s been tough — we’ve had to align some stars to make this work — and we’ve had to rely heavily on our partners to make this happen,” Adair said. “From our conferences to the University of Arizona to the CBS Sports Network, everybody’s come through to put the pieces in place to make this game a possibility.”

This year’s Arizona Bowl will be one of two games, along with the Sun Bowl, to not air on ABC or ESPN, according to the Daily Star.