Originally created 02/11/00

Heritage Bowl suspends 2000 game



ATLANTA -- The Heritage Bowl, played between two of the predominantly black Division 1-AA football conferences, announced Thursday that it was discontinuing the annual game which had been played in Atlanta the last seven years.

Major reasons were a lack of fan support and the end of a two-year television agreement (1998-1999) between NBC and the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference and Southwestern Athletic Conference.

Last year's game in which Hampton (MEAC) beat Southern University (SWAC) 24-3, drew only 29,000 to the 74,000-seat Georgia Dome. The previous year the contest drew 33,000.

The post-season event began in 1991 and was played in Miami. It shifted to Tallahassee the following season and then was moved to Atlanta.

"When the concept of the Heritage Bowl was conceived nine years ago, it was an innovative idea on the Division I-AA level and its founding fathers are to be commended," said SWAC commissioner Rudy Washington.

"Unfortunately, local support for the game in the cities that hosted it wasn't substantial enough to merit continuation of the event. Accordingly, we felt that it was in our best interest to discontinue the game at this time," he said.

"Although we are disappointed with the postponement of the 2000 game, we are optimistic about the potential growth of this post-season event," said MEAC commissioner Charles Harris.