By Keisha J Kelley
December 9, 2020
ESPN Events, a division of ESPN, has announced a three-year sponsorship agreement with Cricket Wireless, who will be the new title sponsor for the MEAC/SWAC Challenge Kickoff and Celebration Bowl. Both events, which are staged in Atlanta, celebrate the tradition, legacy and values of Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
“We are delighted to have Cricket Wireless as the title sponsor of both our football kickoff and bowl games,” said John Grant, executive director for the MEAC/SWAC Challenge Kickoff and Celebration Bowl. “These events provide valuable diversity to the sports offerings in the city of Atlanta. This relationship reflects our mutual passion for and appreciation of Historically Black Colleges and Universities and the valuable contributions they make to our nation. We look forward to working together and building world-class events in a world-class city.”
ESPN Events’ relationship with Cricket began with the sponsorship of the 2018 Celebration Bowl. Cricket’s support of HBCUs began with an agreement with Southern University, which eventually expanded to include sponsorship of the Magic City Classic and Bayou Classic. In October 2020, Cricket and the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) announced a sponsorship agreement extension through 2023.
“At Cricket, we’re all about creating a meaningful connection with our customers and within the communities where we operate,” said Tiffany Baehman, vice president and chief marketing officer, Cricket Wireless. “Our extended relationship with ESPN allows us to continue to introduce our brand to HBCU students, alumni and fans. It also means that we can help amplify the rich culture and legacy of HBCUs, and the positive impact they have within the Black community.”
The Cricket MEAC/SWAC Challenge Kickoff – an early-season matchup of HBCU football teams from the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) and the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) – is played at Georgia State’s Center Parc Credit Union Stadium. The Cricket Celebration Bowl is played in December each year, with the game typically opening the college football bowl season, from Mercedes Benz Stadium.
Due to the current health pandemic, both events were cancelled for the 2020 season, but expected to return in 2021. Fans can re-live and enjoy last year’s Celebration Bowl between Alcorn State and North Carolina A&T on Thursday, Dec. 10, at 8 p.m. on ESPNU. Those interested in joining a virtual watch party can sign up here.
Article courtesy of Amy Negron of ESPN