Football

Miami Beach Bowl sold and will be moving

Marlins Park is converted to a football stadium as it hosted the Miami Beach Bowl. Tulsa played against Central Michigan on Mon., Dec. 19, 2016 in the Miami Beach Bowl at Marlins Park in Miami, Florida.
Marlins Park is converted to a football stadium as it hosted the Miami Beach Bowl. Tulsa played against Central Michigan on Mon., Dec. 19, 2016 in the Miami Beach Bowl at Marlins Park in Miami, Florida. Carl Juste

Three and done for the Miami Beach Bowl.

The only football game played at Marlins Park, on the ground the Orange Bowl once sat — or, if you prefer, the bowl game played on a baseball field and named for a city smaller than the city in which it actually was played — has been sold by the American Athletic Conference to ESPN Events.

The game will leave the state, but take the AAC. On the opponent side, the rotation of conferences that includes FIU and FAU’s Conference USA likely will remain.

Only three Miami Beach Bowls were played. ESPN broadcast each. The AAC didn’t want to get into financial specifics of the game.

ESPN spokesman Derek Volner said the network wouldn’t elaborate on all its reasons for moving the game. A possible landing spot is Frisco, Texas, part of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, although ESPN already owns Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl in that metropolitan area.

“We are in discussions with the city, and are excited about the opportunities, but at this time nothing is final,” Volner told The Herald.

The next incarnation of the Miami Beach Bowl becomes one of 15 bowl games owned by ESPN Events, which owns two other bowl games in Florida: the Boca Bowl at FAU Stadium and the St. Petersburg Bowl, where FIU made its last bowl appearance in 2011.

What Miami and Miami Beach lose remain as nebulous as what municipalities or regions gain from all but the largest sporting events.

Marlins Park got one more offseason date filled. Fans from elsewhere dropped money and filled hotel rooms that likely would’ve been filled anyway at that point in December.

Perhaps the most valuable element locally were the sunny panoramic shots of Miami-Dade and the beaches as the game broadcast returned from commercial breaks. Each functioned as a mini tourism commercial, a teasing taunt to a winter-blasted country.

“We’re excited that the bowl is growing and are honored to have been part of such a great event,” Miami Beach spokesperson Melissa Berthier said. “We will certainly continue to root for them and their continued success.”

The Miami Beach Bowl lacked history but not excitement, at least the first two years. Memphis' 55-48 double overtime win against BYU might have been the most action-packed bowl game of the 2014 season, even without the postgame brawl.

“This is probably the craziest and most emotional game I have ever been a part of,” said Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch, now with the Denver Broncos.

Western Kentucky's 45-35 win against South Florida the following year could have been called The Willie Taggart bowl beforehand – current Oregon coach Taggart starred at Western as a player, resurrected the program as a coach before leaving to coach USF – but Miami-Dade and Broward players yanked the attention to themselves.

North Broward Prep’s Brandon Doughty threw for 461 yards and two touchdowns, including 69- and 55-yarders to Booker T. Washington High graduate Nicholas Norris. Jackson High graduate Quinton Flowers quarterbacked South Florida expertly, running for 108 yards and throwing for 273.

Two out of three ain’t bad — the 2016 game saw Tulsa score on its first eight possessions in a 55-10 blasting of Central Michigan.

David J. Neal: 305-376-3559, @DavidJNeal

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