Redbox Bowl Canceled for This Season – The 2019 Game Gave Cal Hope

Cal won the 2019 Redbox BowlPhoto by Stan Szeto - USA TODAY Sports

Jake Curtis

The Redbox Bowl, the Bay Area’s only postseason bowl and the game that lifted Cal’s expectations for the 2020 season, will not be played this season.

Redbox Bowl officials made the announcement on Friday that it will not host a game this season, but hopes to return in future seasons.

The Redbox Bowl, which pits a Pac-12 team against a Big Ten opponent, is the first bowl game this season to announce it is being cancelled, and it is unclear whether it will be able to return.

The COVID-19 pandemic was a contributing factor to this year’s cancellation of the bowl played at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara. Afterall, there may not be a college football season at all this fall because of that health issue.

But Jon Wilner of the Mercury-News reported there was another factor.

Levi’s Stadium is home to the San Francisco 49ers, and last winter the 49ers decided “to not renew the current agreement” with the Redbox Bowl, according to the franchise.

Here is the statement released by Ryan Oppelt, executive director of the Redbox Bowl:

“The San Francisco 49ers and Levi’s Stadium have been incredible stewards of CFB over the last six years, and I, along with so many Bay Area College Football fans, am grateful for all they’ve done to support and promote the game.

“While it’s unfortunate that we are unable to stage the 19th iteration of the Bay Area’s Bowl game this December, I’m confident that the Bowl property, along with the entire live sports, events and tourism industry, will be in a healthier position next year, and we can’t wait to welcome new college football teams and fans back to the San Francisco Bay Area in 2021.”

Whether the game can find another home in the Bay Area and be ready to operate in the 2021 season remains to be seen.

The 49ers also released a statement:

“Levi’s Stadium has been proud to be the home of the Bay Area’s Bowl Game the last six years. While the decision has been made to not renew the current agreement to host the game moving forward, we remain interested in bringing premier college football back to Levi’s Stadium in the future.

“We appreciate our collaboration with the Pac-12 and Big Ten Conferences, and their member institutions, and are supportive of ongoing efforts to keep the game in the region at another location.

“At Levi’s Stadium we continue our work to bring world-class events to the venue, including premier concerts, a future Super Bowl, and the 2026 FIFA World Cup.”

The Redbox Bowl was unable to lock up an alternative venue for the 2020 season, and it's unclear whether it can find one for next season.

The Redbox Bowl began as the San Francisco Bowl in 2002 and underwent  several name changes and a venue change before landing in Santa Clara.

The 2019 Redbox Bowl gave Cal a happy ending to its season. The Bears defeated Illinois 35-20 in that bowl game last December, giving Cal an 8-5 season record and erasing some of the ugly taste of the 10-7 loss to TCU in the Cheez-It Bowl the previous season.

The win led to high expectations for the 2020 season, since so many of the key players from that Cal team return this season. Now it is unclear whether there will even be a 2020 college football season.

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Follow Jake Curtis of Cal Sports Report on Twitter: @jakecurtis53

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