Norfolk, Va. (May 22, 20917) --- The Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl, pitting the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference football champ against the champion of the Southwestern Athletic Conference will once again be televised live on ABC and open the college bowl season. The postseason college football bowl game will kick off at noon ET on Saturday, Dec. 16, at the brand new Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.
The Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl showcases the heritage, legacy, pageantry and tradition of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Each conference has claimed a victory in the event's first two years, with MEAC Champion North Carolina A&T defeating Alcorn State 2015 and SWAC Champion Grambling State upending North Carolina Central in 2016. Two bowl alumni were just selected in the 2017 NFL Draft: 2015 Offensive MVP Tarik Cohen (North Carolina A&T) and 2016 champion Chad Williams (Grambling State).
“We are thrilled to once again kickoff the college football bowl season with the Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl on ABC," said John Grant, Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl Executive Director. "This year's game will be the first bowl game to be played in the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium. In our third year of featuring the champions from the MEAC and SWAC conferences, football fans have been exposed to two very competitive games that each went down to the wire. With the conference win records tied at one each this year's game will showcase to millions of fans and viewers another exciting championship game. Atlanta will play host to both the Celebration Bowl to open the season as well as the College Football Playoff Championship as the season finale.”
"We are pleased to know that the 2017 Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl will be on ABC again," said MEAC Commissioner Dr. Dennis E. Thomas. "The exposure on an international and national level is not only good for our conferences but is also good for the participating institutions. To start the 2017 bowl season is an excellent opportunity for our student-athletes, coaches and institutions as they're on a national platform that will enhance their brand and marketability. ESPN should be commended for providing this avenue of exposure for the MEAC and SWAC Champions."
“The Southwestern Athletic Conference is excited to continue its relationship with the Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl, ABC and the city of Atlanta,” SWAC Commissioner Duer Sharp said. “The best football fans in country will once again have the outstanding opportunity to watch the MEAC and SWAC champions kick off bowl season, playing in front of a nationally televised audience. The excitement of the game, the halftime battle of the bands and the opportunity to play in the new home of the Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta United FC, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, makes for a fantastic bowl experience for our student-athletes and football fans everywhere.”
Tickets for the game, a full ancillary event schedule and discounted rates at downtown Atlanta hotels will be available this summer. To stay up to date on Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl announcements, sign up for updates on www.TheCelebrationBowl.com, and follow the event on Facebook and Twitter.
ESPN Events, a division of ESPN, also manages the season-opening MEAC/SWAC Challenge on Labor Day Weekend, another game that showcases these two conferences and highlights the traditions of HBCUs. The 2017 Challenge features Southern University from the SWAC and South Carolina State University from the MEAC, and will be played Sunday, Sept. 3 at Southern's Ace. W Mumford Stadium, live on an ESPN network.
The Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl is one of 13 bowl games owned and operated by ESPN Events.
ESPN Events, a division of ESPN, owns and operates a large portfolio of collegiate sporting events worldwide. The roster includes three Labor Day weekend college football games; FCS opening-weekend game; 14 college bowl games, 11 college basketball events and two college award shows, which accounts for approximately 300-plus hours of programming, reaches almost 64 million viewers and attracts over 700,000 attendees each year. With satellite offices in Albuquerque, Birmingham, Boca Raton, Boise, Dallas-Fort Worth, Honolulu, Las Vegas, Montgomery and St. Petersburg, ESPN Events builds relationships with conferences, schools and local communities, as well as providing unique experiences for teams and fans.
ESPN Events also manages the Big 12 Corporate Partner Program.
AdvoCare Texas Kickoff (Houston); Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl (Atlanta); Bahamas Bowl (Nassau); Birmingham Bowl (Alabama); Boca Raton Bowl (Florida); Camping World Kickoff (Orlando, Fla.); Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (Boise); Gildan New Mexico Bowl (Albuquerque); Guardian Credit Union FCS Kickoff (Montgomery, Ala.); Hawai'i Bowl (Honolulu); Las Vegas Bowl (Nevada); Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl (Dallas-Fort Worth); MEAC/SWAC Challenge (Baton Rouge, La.); Raycom Media Camellia Bowl (Montgomery, Ala.); St. Petersburg Bowl (Florida); Texas Bowl (Houston); The Home Depot College Football Awards (Atlanta) and Zaxby's Heart of Dallas Bowl (Dallas-Fort Worth)
AdvoCare Invitational (Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando, Fla.); Armed Forces Classic (Ramstein Air Base, Germany); College Basketball Awards Presented by Wendy's (Los Angeles); Gildan Charleston Classic (South Carolina); Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic (Honolulu); Jimmy V Men's Classic presented by Corona (New York City); Jimmy V Women's Classic presented by Corona (TBD); NIT Season Tip-Off (Brooklyn, N.Y.); PK80 (Portland, Ore.); Puerto Rico Tip-Off (San Juan); State Farm Champions Classic (Chicago) and Wooden Legacy (Fullerton, Calif.)