After five very successful bowl games that has solidified the Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl as the longest-running international bowl game in college football history, the sixth-annual bowl game will kick off at 2:00 pm on Friday, Dec. 20, 2019 in Nassau’s Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium.
Proving the slogan “Bowl Games are Better in the Bahamas,” bowl week in Nassau always lives up to that with a mix of sun, sand and football in one of the world’s most beautiful tourist destinations.
The Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl was enhanced after ESPN Events added the game to an impressive stable of events in May 2015. And, with ESPN on board, the bowl week always provides student-athletes, conference partners, alumni, fans and sponsors a first-class international bowl experience.
Elk Grove Village, using its business slogan – Makers Wanted – was announced as the title sponsor of the Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl on July 31, 2018.
The Makers Wanted tagline serves as a call-to-action for Elk Grove Village’s thriving community and the thousands of businesses that are based there.
“Elk Grove Village is home to the largest industrial park in the United States, spurred by our village’s commitment to being beyond business-friendly,” said Elk Grove Village Mayor Craig Johnson. “Our relationship with the Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl and ESPN Events is a perfect opportunity to use college football to share our message with the entire country. We were impressed by how the bowl game has been developed in the Bahamas over the past four years, and we share in the excitement that this event brings to their community.”
This is the first time a non-tourist municipality has ever sponsored a bowl game, and the sponsorship highlights the innovative thinking found in Elk Grove Village. With unparalleled transportation options for manufacturers and a town that is truly committed to supporting its industrial park tenants, Elk Grove Village has become a destination for businesses from across the United States.
A large part of the Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl’s success is the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism. Bahamians of all ages come out to the National Stadium to experience gameday the way it happens in U.S. college stadiums each week during the season.
The Atlantis Bahamas is another important element to the bowl experience, as it houses both teams for four nights at its world-class resort and water park on Paradise Island.
The gameday action takes place at Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium, where fans have watched some of the most-exciting contests among the bowls each year. The stadium received a major upgrade in November 2016 as the National Stadium Authority-Bahamas installed a Celebration Bermudagrass field. The facility also has gone through other upgrades each year, including a new high-definition video board prior to the 2018 game.
There has been plenty of success on the field for all of the participating teams. Both of the first two winners of the bowl — WKU in 2014 and Western Michigan in 2015 — went on to win their respective conference titles the following season, and Western Michigan participated in a New Year’s Six bowl after an undefeated season in 2016. UAB, the Bahamas Bowl runner-up in 2017, won the Conference USA title in 2018.
A total of 24 alumni who have participated in the bowl have heard their names called by teams during the 2015-19 NFL Drafts, led by Western Michigan wide receiver Corey Davis, who was selected No. 5 overall by the Tennessee Titans in the 2017 draft. Five former student-athletes who played in the Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl were selected in the 2019 NFL Draft, while a bowl-record total of seven student-athletes were taken in 2016. A total of 23 Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl alumni have played in at least one game in the National Football League through the end of the 2018 season.
The bowl has had one conference coach of the year and three freshman of the year award winners participate in the game.
The 2018 game featured FIU of Conference USA against Toledo of the Mid-American Conference.
FIU erased a 10-0 first-quarter deficit by halftime, and the Panthers held on for a 35-32 victory over Toledo.
FIU quarterback Christian Alexander was named the Offensive Player of the Game, going 17-for-26 through the air for 209 yards and a touchdown. He also added 87 yards on 10 carries, which set the bowl’s record for a quarterback.
Alexander was announced as the starter at quarterback two days prior to the bowl for James Morgan, the Conference USA Newcomer of the Year, who could not play due to a sore shoulder.
Panther running back Anthony Jones carried the ball 15 times for 92 yards and three touchdowns to lead FIU in rushing. The Panthers had a 236-124 advantage in rushing yards, as teams with more yards on the ground are 5-0 in the bowl’s history.
FIU linebacker Edwin Freeman was selected as the Defensive Player of the Game as he led the Panthers with eight tackles, including five unassisted stops.
FIU (9-4) closed the season with a school-record nine victories.
FIU head coach Butch Davis raised the Prime Minister’s Trophy after the game as the bowl champions.
Fans at the game were treated to a pregame Tailgate Extravaganza outside the National Stadium, a pregame performance by the famed Bahamas All-Stars band, a Junkanoo performance during the game and a halftime performance from the Royal Bahamas Police Force Band.
The game was broadcast on television on ESPN for the sixth-consecutive year as Steve Levy and 1991 Heisman Trophy winner Desmond Howard described the action, and the bowl action was heard in the U.S. on the Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl Radio Network.
The game capped off a tremendous bowl week for everyone involved, who all enjoyed the famous hospitality that the Bahamas offers to visitors.
A welcome party at the Atlantis after the teams’ arrivals gave the student-athletes, team travel parties and VIPs a taste of the Bahamas. The student-athletes attended a beach bash the next night at Atlantis and had a chance to enjoy food, fun and fellowship on the beach with spectacular views of the Caribbean and the striking Atlantis resort.
One of the highlights of bowl week was when the student-athletes from FIU and Toledo helped fulfill the mission statement of the bowl as they gave back to the youth of the Bahamas by way of a visit to the Ranfurly Homes for Children in Nassau and a Youth Football Clinic conducted by USA Football, the Commonwealth of American Football League (CAFL) and the bowl. The large contingent of student-athletes from both schools brought smiles to the Bahamian youth at both events.
“You couldn’t ask to go to a better location for a bowl game,” said Davis. “Everything that we were a part of was first-class. From the functions at the hotel – they were spectacular. The rooms, Atlantis, you couldn’t ask to go to a better place.
“It’s been a tremendous opportunity for our young people to get out of the country and see a wonderful place,” said Toledo head coach Jason Candle. So many people put their hand in this thing to make it go and for it to be successful. I’ll take a second to recognize the bowl staff, title sponsor Makers Wanted and Elk Grove Village, ESPN and Atlantis – oh my gosh, what a place and how great they’ve been to us – our hosts, what great hospitality you’ve shown, second to none. It really made our team feel welcome. Our kids are feeling the love that this island provides.”
The economic impact of the bowl came to the Bahamas in travel, shipping, hotels, food, supplies, advertising, entertainment and local transportation. Several local Nassau businesses worked with the bowl and supplied product, supplies, equipment and services. The bowl will continue to visit the Ranfurly Homes, conduct the Youth Football Clinic and engage the Bahamas All-Stars band and Junkanoo groups.
Valued support for the Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl comes from a diverse group of sponsors, especially the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism and Atlantis Bahamas. Local Bahamian sponsors Tribune Media, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Pizza Hut, BahamasLocal.com, Caribbean Bottling Company Bahamas (Coca-Cola) and Bud Light Caribbean, join numerous Nassau businesses in making the bowl a success.
The support of the Bahamas Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture and the National Sports Authority-Bahamas and their staffs are crucial to the bowl’s efforts. Transportation partners Bahamas Experience, Leisure Travel and Tours and Majestic Travel along with the Lynden Pindling International Airport, Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and Nassau Airport Development Company (NAD) staffs make sure the teams, staffs, VIPs and fans get into, around New Providence Island and back home during bowl week with ease. And fans used TeamIP to get their bowl and team merchandise at the Atlantis, on gameday and online.
For the 2019 game as with the previous five, the Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl has Conference USA and the Mid-American Conference as participating conferences in the Nassau stadium named for the late Bahamian Olympic track star on December 20.
The sixth-annual game in 2019 promises to be another chapter in a rich history of Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl contests that have captured the imagination of Bahamian and visiting college football fans who have made their way to Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium, and those watching on ESPN, to see why “Bowl Games are Better in The Bahamas”.