College Football

Yankees president responds to Gazette column on Pinstripe Bowl

In its eighth year, Pinstripe Bowl feels as if it has its niche

The George M. Steinbrenner III Championship Trophy  is seen during a press conference at Yankees Stadium in New York City on  Dec. 26, 2017. (Manish Gosalia/Freelance)
The George M. Steinbrenner III Championship Trophy is seen during a press conference at Yankees Stadium in New York City on Dec. 26, 2017. (Manish Gosalia/Freelance)

NEW YORK — New York Yankees president Randy Levine has a vested interest in whether or not the Pinstripe Bowl can thrive and survive.

The bowl is in its eighth year and has been affiliated with the Big Ten Conference for four seasons, with Penn State, Indiana and Northwestern preceding the Hawkeyes, who faced Boston College on Wednesday at Yankee Stadium.

Bowls are continuously changing and the Pinstripe is a departure from the usual warm weather destinations. The Yankees have a vested interest in this. The Big Ten has offices in New York and will host the Big Ten men’s basketball tournament this winter.

They want this to succeed and they bristle when faced with negative publicity.

Levine wanted to respond to a Dec. 12 column by Gazette sports columnist Mike Hlas.

“As anyone who knows me in New York, sometimes when I read stuff, if I have a little issue with it, I like to call them and engage,” Levine said.

Here’s the engagement.

“I just wanted the people of Iowa to know how happy we are to be hosting the Hawkeyes and just a couple of facts,” Levine said.

— It’s football in a baseball stadium. Levine pointed out that Yankee Stadium has a long history with football.

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Notre Dame’s Knute Rockne coached in Yankee Stadium. The Giants used to play in Yankee Stadium and Levine referred to the 1958 NFL championship game with the Baltimore Colts, which has been called the “greatest game ever played.”

— The Pinstripe has already played host to the likes of Notre Dame and Penn State.

“In some of the columns, it seems like the game isn’t worthy of the University of Iowa,” Levine said. “I would say if it’s worth it for the universities I just talked about, it’s worthy of the University of Iowa, which has a great program.”

— And then weather.

“It’s our feeling that you never know where the weather is,” Levine said. “It’s cold now, we’ve had different weather, but I’m looking around at the at the weather at all of these other bowl games, and I see the low 30s in Nashville and in Memphis. Football is a game that really should be played in the cold weather.”

And, yes, during Tuesday’s news conference between Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz and Boston College head coach Steve Addazio, they laughed at the cold and noted that, yes, Iowa and Boston have real winters.

— New York is an expensive city, it just is. Hotel taxes here are room rates in a lot of Big Ten country.

Levine’s rebuttal here is “Like any city, it’s very affordable, we have a lot of affordable places here. We have hotel rooms that are very, very affordable.”

— Christmas in New York? That’s an unquestionably cool thing.

“We can offer things no one else can,” Levine said.

For Wednesday’s game, the bowl sold 38,000 tickets. Boston College sold its entire allotment. Iowa sold around 1,000 of its ticket allotment of 7,500.

For baseball, Yankee Stadium holds 47,000. Some sections are closed off for the bowl game because of poor sightlines. For Notre Dame and Penn State, the bowl had to add seats. The attendance ranges from 38,000 to 40,000. Levine called this matchup “profitable.”

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In 2013, the Pinstripe (established in 2010) and the Big Ten signed an eight-year affiliation agreement. It expires in 2021.

As it stands in the current B1G bowl configuration, the Pinstripe is a second-tier bowl grouped with the Music City (Nashville, Tenn.) and Foster Farms (San Francisco, Calif.). Before Iowa was selected for the Pinstripe, athletics director Gary Barta said the feedback he received from Iowa’s fan base was a strong preference for the Music City.

“What we believe in is providing a really unique experience for the college athlete, student-athletes,” Levine said. “Nobody can really do that, except for Florida or some places out west. Weather is no issue. Football is a cold-weather sport.”

For what it’s worth, the temperature a few hours before kick off here was 24 with a windchill of 16 degrees.

l Comments: (319) 398-8256; marc.morehouse@thegazette.com

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