Sun Bowl shines a positive light on the border town as it tries to overcome the migration crisis

EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – The ongoing immigration crisis and drug cartel activity across the border put El Paso in the national spotlight on several occasions in 2021.

But on Friday, the city has the chance to show its beautiful face to the country thanks to the Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl.

“It puts El Paso in a positive national light across the country. That’s good because most of the time El Paso is in the national news, it’s usually not good, ”said Bernie Olivas, executive director of the Sun Bowl Association. “But for four hours, CBS is going to do a terrific job, as always, of promoting our city and getting people to come visit us here. We have a great city.

The college football game between Washington State University and central Michigan kicks off at noon eastern time at the University of Texas at Sun Bowl Stadium in El Paso. In recent years, CBS has displayed aerial views of the stadium, UTEP, and some of the city’s landmarks.

Gambling has an impact of $ 14–25 million in El Paso, as out-of-town visitors fly or drive, stay in hotels, eat out, shop at local stores , rent cars or pump gas.

“When someone calls to rent a van, stay in a hotel, I try to spread them around me… I recommend hotels all over town so that everyone can have a share,” Olivas said. “Same thing with restaurants. You can’t go to a Mexican restaurant here and have a bad meal; I think everyone in El Paso can attest to that. So, yes, it is very important for our economic development and our community.

Folk dancers and a mariachi band greeted players from Washington State University in El Paso last Sunday. (photo KTSM)

The Sun Bowl Association has canceled the 2020 game at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2021 game which will be played on Friday has hardly taken place – again, due to COVID-19.

The University of Miami Hurricanes pulled out of the game on Sunday after several of its players joined an already long list of COVID-positive athletes and staff.

Image courtesy of the Sun Bowl Association

Monday night, the Sun Bowl secured a commitment from Central Michigan and the Mid-American Conference to take Miami’s place. The change means a payment of over $ 2 million to the MAC, as opposed to the $ 175,000 it was expected to get from Central Michigan playing in the Arizona Bowl – which was canceled on Monday after the withdrawal of the ‘Boise State University due to numerous players testing positive for COVID -19.

“It would have been devastating not to have the game two years in a row,” said Olivas. “Two years in a row. It could have killed us.

He said the Sun Bowl not only exposes football fans across the United States to the friendliness and natural attractions of El Paso – such as its sunny weather and mild winters – but also makes a lasting impression on El Paso. players, coaching staff and team fans who come to El Paso.

“When you step off that plane and receive this welcome reception, it’s absolutely clear how much this event means to the people of El Paso,” said the Washington state athletic director, Pat Chun. “We are 100% committed to the Sun Bowl, 100% to El Paso, we have families that come here… we are grateful to have this opportunity. “

Chun said the Washington state contingent would have been larger, but the school canceled a charter flight for his group and spiritual team due to the possibility of not finding a replacement for Miami.

“The bowling games are deserved, and our guys deserved this opportunity,” he said of his Sun Bowl appearance on Friday.

Olivas is hoping that the national attention sparked by the eventual cancellation of the game and the drama of finding a last-minute replacement will be reflected in good ratings for the Sun Bowl.

The fact that the national college football semifinals will be played later today means football fans across the country will be tuned in to their televisions for most of the day. That, he said, might prompt some to take a look at the Sun Bowl and get a taste of what El Paso really is.

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