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Behind the Belk Bowl

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What goes into making a successful bowl game?

The first thing many people think of now when they hear “Belk Bowl” is the bowl’s Twitter account (or quality menswear). That’s due in large part to Miller Yoho, who has built the Belk Bowl into one of the most fun and interactive social entities in the college football universe. With his help, the Belk Bowl has forsaken traditional methods of hawking tickets in October or predictable promotions in favor of engaging, interesting, topical, and most of all FUN interaction. Whether offering commentary on college football’s most prevalent topic or just tweeting @FauxPelini, the Belk Bowl is consistently involved and making people part of their experience as if their team were selected. Perhaps most importantly, the Belk Bowl shares a philosophy with Good Bull Hunting: college football is FUN.

This year, after much pleading (some by us) the Belk Bowl finally extended an invitation to the FIghtin’ Texas Aggies. So your intrepid present reporters, Rush Roberts and Lucas Jackson, sat down a bit with Yoho and Will Pitts, the Associate Executive Director of the Charlotte Sports Foundation, to talk informally about what makes the Belk Bowl tick.

“Charlotte is a banking city,” they say. “Normally... between Christmas and New Year, you’ve either got a few people going back to work here, or most of them are out of town or staying home.” The Belk Bowl provides a much-needed infusion of commerce in that dead week. Tens of thousands of visitors descending on downtown, staying in hotels that would otherwise be empty, and filling up the bars and restaurants that might otherwise be on adjusted holiday hours. It’s kind of a spark that keeps the fire of downtown Charlotte burning until the new year kicks off and it’s back to business as usual.

Yoho and Pitts both emphatically expressed the importance of local sponsors. The support offered by the Carolina Panthers cannot be overstated, offered willingly even in the midst of a playoff run. The camaraderie between the Belk Bowl staff and the Panthers’ social media team is readily evident. That just leaves the name on the signage: Belk.

By any number of measures, Belk has made all the right moves to make their game the premier bowl week experience. The entire week is planned in meticulous detail, from the Charlotte Motor Speedway to the Fan Central and FanFest.

But the jewel in Belk Bowl’s crown is how it treats the players. It’s no secret that one of the primary perks for players is the gift package and most bowl sponsors provide a gift suite with prepackaged items. However, while Belk provides a commemorative watch to each player, it also gives each player a $450 gift card, a personal shopper, and free run of its flagship store. It may not sound like much, but Belk’s re-packaged gift suites and in-store shopping sprees allow players to get caught up in the spirit and sometimes helps bring out the spirit in others. This spirit is contagious, and it’s why Belk continues to sponsor the bowl and promote the city of Charlotte for three simple reasons: it’s fun, it’s good for everyone, and it’s what we need more of in college football. Each player is able to get exactly what they want. Pitts and Yoho are proud of this, and rightly so. They offered several stories, including players being able to buy their mother a Christmas gift for the first time (a Cuisinart and pink slippers) or deciding to pool their unused balances for charity. According to Pitts, one team recently their compiled their gift card balances and transferred the credit to take kids from their local hospital on their own Christmas shopping spree. These collective experiences shared by players and fans alike have shaped the Belk Bowl into an institution that lives permanently in Charotte, improving its commerce and the lives of its visitors alike.

Tomorrow the college season will progress further towards history. No matter what the outcome may be, we would be remiss if we didn’t salute the Belk Bowl and the city of Charlotte for their hospitality. The season is nearing its end, but the Belk Bowl goes on as usual.