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Bronco Mendenhall: Fenway Bowl Was Preferred Destination for UVA Football

Mendenhall was “hopeful” that Virginia would be selected for the Wasabi Fenway Bowl

Virginia’s bowl selection to participate in the Wasabi Fenway Bowl against SMU on December 29th has been met with mixed reactions from the UVA fanbase.

While some Virginia fans are excited about the opportunity the Cavaliers have to play at Fenway Park and compete for another bowl championship, there are many who are less than pleased with the location and date of the bowl game.

For starters, Virginia will be playing in one of the few games on the 42-game bowl schedule that does not take place either indoors or in a warm, tropical location. Late December in Boston will likely be a recipe for one of the coldest bowl games of the season.

Additionally, the timing of the game is not exactly convenient to say the least. Virginia’s game against SMU will kickoff at 11am on a Wednesday. Even if many UVA fans are enthused about seeing the Hoos play at Fenway Park, there is no guarantee that they will be able to make the long trip to Boston for a morning kickoff on a weekday.

Bronco Mendenhall does not share this unfavorable opinion of Virginia’s bowl selection. In fact, in a virtual press conference on Sunday night, Mendenhall indicated that playing in the Fenway Bowl was his top preference from among the potential landing spots for UVA’s bowl game on Selection Sunday.

“Carla [Williams] reached out and within our options - she was asking what would be first preference, second, third, etc. of our options and I really liked the idea of going to Boston and playing a football game in that stadium,” Mendenhall said on Sunday evening. “Our team hasn’t been there in my time here. It’s a historic stadium, a really good matchup, and it just seemed like a really good opportunity to continue to grow and advance UVA’s football program. And so, it made a lot of sense to me and I was hopeful that this would be the game we were selected for.”

There is a long and storied history of football games being played at Fenway Park dating back to 1912. Virginia and SMU will be a part of the first ever college football bowl game to be played on the iconic home field of the Boston Red Sox. The historical significance of playing at Fenway Park is certainly not lost on Mendenhall, who will also be coaching in his final game as head coach of the Virginia football program.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to coach my team one more time and it will be a remarkable experience to play a bowl game at Fenway Park,” Mendenhall said. “There are a handful of sporting arenas in the country that are as unique, historic and beloved as Fenway Park. So, the idea of coaching my last game at Virginia at a place like Fenway Park, I really like that.”

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Fenway Park

Fenway Park

Setting aside the inconveniences of timing and weather, this bowl game presents an extraordinarily rare opportunity for the Virginia football program to win a historically significant college football bowl game. The UVA players and coaches will undoubtedly be working their hardest this month to prepare themselves to bring a bowl championship back to Charlottesville. If they are able, Virginia fans should do their best to make the trip to support the Hoos in Boston. It will be a singularly special sporting event to witness in person.

“At the beginning of the year, we set winning a bowl championship as one of our goals,” Mendenhall said. “We are going to plan a great experience for our team, enjoy our time in one of the most historic cities in our country and prepare really hard for the final time we will compete together.”

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