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ABQ scores big with New Mexico Bowl

Copyright © 2018 Albuquerque Journal

Whether North Texas or Utah State takes the trophy at Saturday’s New Mexico Bowl, Albuquerque is sure to score a touchdown with millions of dollars of visitor spending expected from the event.

Tania Armenta, president and CEO of Visit Albuquerque, said direct spending resulting from the bowl game has averaged $3.5 million a year over the past five years.

That’s right on track with this year’s event, which is expected to attract around 6,000 out-of-town visitors.

In addition to the millions of dollars in economic impact, the national exposure brings added benefits.

Armenta said her organization provides scenic footage and images for use during ESPN’s broadcast of the game; certain angles of the stadium also display a spectacular view of the Sandia Mountains for viewers.

“The entire broadcast is really a three-and-a-half hour advertisement for the city and the state,” Armenta said.

North Texas’ Mean Green and Utah State’s Aggies will square off at noon Saturday at Dreamstyle Stadium, helping kick off the first day of the nation’s 39-game bowl schedule.

The matchup is expected to be a fun one to watch: the Fort Worth Star-Telegram recently ranked the New Mexico Bowl as the 10th best bowl game as far as pure entertainment value goes.

On offense, Utah State ranks third among major college teams, averaging 47.2 points a game. North Texas is 21st with a 36.4 average.

This will be the first year since 2010 without the bowl’s title sponsor, Gildan, whose contract quietly ended around nine months ago.

Bowl director Jeff Siembieda said during a team luncheon earlier this month organizers are close to finding a replacement title sponsor, but that ESPN will pick up the tab in the meantime.

“We have the full support of ESPN Events,” said New Mexico Bowl spokeswoman RaeAnn McKernan.

McKernan said ticket sales, which run from $25 to $40, are “on pace with most years” but did not provide exact sale numbers.

Last year’s bowl, which matched Colorado State and Marshall, had around 26,000 attendees. The record attendance was set in the inaugural event in 2006 when 34,111 saw New Mexico beat San Jose State.

Weather on Saturday is expected to be in the high 40s and lower 50s and partly cloudy.

In addition, Jennifer Riordan, the local banking executive killed in a Southwest Airlines accident earlier this year, will be honored on the field. The ceremony will include the unveiling of a new app that encourages acts of kindness throughout Albuquerque.