I was pleased to read that the word “peach” might be returning to the name of Atlanta’s successful college football bowl game, the Chick-fil-A Bowl. I was even more pleased to read the reason why: that it is part of the deal to make Atlanta one of the cities that will host the six BCS playoff games in the Georgia Dome and then, hopefully, some day welcome the BCS national championship in the Falcons’ new stadium.
I am a third-generation Atlantan with a strong family heritage of supporting the city and its college football. I grew up in an era when Bobby Dodd was king of Atlanta sports, and Georgia Tech was a respected force in college football in the South. Pro sports were new and not yet established.
The addition of the Peach Bowl in 1968 was exciting. It was part of Atlanta’s growth as a major sports city. For many years, the Peach Bowl was played outdoors, first at Grant Field and then at Atlanta Fulton County Stadium. The weather was often horrible. But the Peach Bowl grew quickly and prospered once the Georgia Dome was built — and it has yet to sleet inside that building.
Since that time, much has changed. The Braves have won a World Series, the Falcons have played in a Super Bowl, and both of these teams are poised to go deep into the postseason this year.
We should all be proud and grateful for what Chick-fil-A has done as a sponsor of Atlanta’s New Year’s Eve bowl game, and certainly want to make sure this great company is acknowledged for its continued support of this New Year’s Eve tradition.
However, I also believe that a major national event should reflect both our heritage and location.
Through the years, blood, sweat and tears were spent building the Peach Bowl by people like bowl founder George Crumbley, the Lions Clubs of Georgia and former executive directors Dick Bestwick and Robert Dale Morgan. The peach is indigenous to our state, and Georgia is officially known as the Peach State. If “peach” is returned to the name, the bowl game will honor the history of the game and be an integral part of the Georgia brand.
I fully understand the marketing reasons for using Chick-fil-A as the lone identifier in the bowl name. The company that pays the big bills should get the big credit. It is easy for news stories to cut out the sponsor and just refer to it as the Peach Bowl. While we recognize and are grateful for the significant role Chick-fil-A contributes to our community, I hope there is a way to make it the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl again.
I have attended every Peach, Chick-fil-A Peach and Chick-fil-A Bowl that Georgia Tech has played in over the years. Unfortunately, the Ramblin’ Wreck never won any of those games.
However, this is Atlanta’s bowl game, regardless of who plays and who wins. It is an important asset to our city. It will be even more important as a BCS playoff site, regardless of the name.
Blake McBurney is CEO of McBurney Power, an Atlanta-based company that designs and builds renewable energy power plants worldwide.