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Holiday Bowl Canceled Due To COVID-19 Pandemic

Iowa wide receiver Brandon Smith, right, reaches forward as he goes out of bo...

Photo by Orlando Ramirez

Above: Iowa wide receiver Brandon Smith, right, reaches forward as he goes out of bounds as he is tackled by Southern California cornerback Olaijah Griffin during the first half of the Holiday Bowl NCAA college football game Friday, Dec. 27, 2019, in San Diego.

The 2020 Holiday Bowl has been canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic following a unanimous vote by the San Diego Bowl Game Association board, organizers announced Thursday.

"This has been the most difficult decision our board has ever had to make since our bowl game started in 1978," said Holiday Bowl CEO Mark Neville.

"While it's not the decision we wanted to make, it's the right decision for our nonprofit association and the community for the long term."

The board had not decided where or when the 2020 game would be played when it privately voted last week to cancel it. The association needed to find a site for the late-December game following the closure of SDCCU Stadium, where it had been played since its inception.

Multiple sites are under consideration for the 2021 game, including Petco Park, Rick Schloss, the director of media relations for the San Diego Bowl Game Association, told City News Service.

The bowl game was created to fill hotel rooms in late December, typically the slowest tourism period of the year in San Diego.

An average of 28,000 hotel rooms have been rented annually over the past decade in connection to the game, which annually generated an average of $31 million of economic activity during the period, Schloss said.

"This decision was particularly difficult because our tourism industry has taken such a hit due to the pandemic," Neville said. "The virus has created a situation in that we wouldn't be able to welcome fans, ultimately resulting in no tourism.

"Couple that with the financial and potential health risks of trying to play the game during this pandemic and it was clear this was the right decision for us."

The 2020 Holiday Bowl was to be the first of a six-year cycle matching teams from the Pac-12 and Atlantic Coast Conference. The game was set to be televised by Fox Sports for the fourth consecutive year.

The traditional bowl week events have also been canceled for 2020, including the nationally televised Port of San Diego Holiday Bowl Parade.

The Holiday Bowl is the fourth bowl game to be canceled for the 2020 season, following the Bahamas Bowl, Hawaii Bowl and the San Francisco Bay Area-based Redbox Bowl.

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