After a pandemic hiatus, the Hawaii Bowl will be back this Christmas Eve

The Hawaii Bowl is set to return this December after COVID sidelined the college football bowl game for the last two years.
Published: Sep. 21, 2022 at 4:19 PM HST|Updated: Sep. 21, 2022 at 4:52 PM HST

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Hawaii Bowl is set to return this December after COVID sidelined the college football bowl game for the last two years.

ESPN Events — the organizers of the bowl game — sought to assure fans and the people of the Hawaii on Wednesday that the annual Christmas Eve clash isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

“We are taking this opportunity to be back this week and talk about just how valuable this business is to us,” ESPN Events Vice President Clint Overby told reporters.

Starting in 2002, the Hawaii Bowl has become an annual holiday tradition for local sports fans with the Rainbow Warriors competing in nine of the last 18 games.

Their most recent outing was a come-from-behind win over BYU in 2019.

The last two bowls were scratched due to the pandemic, with the 2021 game being canceled after UH pulled out 24 hours before kickoff. But ESPN Events doesn’t want the last two years to foreshadow the future of the game.

“We knew early on in (the pandemic) that there was going to be some sort of disruption.” Overby said.

“I think the surprise was last year, but we didn’t want anything that happened in the last two years to ever be an indicator of what our future investment or future opportunities was going to be with the event.”

In 2019, the Hawaii Bowl brought about $13.5 million in revenues to the islands, on top of the nationwide viewing audience the game has when broadcast on ESPN.

“They will have an impact as they’ll stay at our hotels, they’ll eat at our restaurants or what have you,” Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association President Mufi Hannemann told Hawaii News Now.

“So the economic impact will not be as large as we’ve seen with sporting events that were held at Aloha Stadium but it will be a welcome edition.”

Despite the game being played at Ching field — a significantly smaller venue than Aloha Stadium — tourism officials say that it’s a sign that large sporting events still want to come to the islands.

“Well I hope our government officials now will move much quicker on building a larger stadium that we can have you know major opportunities like this occur,” Hannemann said.

“I think this adds to that incentive or at least it should that we have a 9,000 seat stadium and ESPN still wants to have a bowl game here.”

The game will feature a team from the Mountain West Conference taking on someone from either the American Athletic Conference or Conference USA this Christmas eve in Manoa.