Despite being among the highest attended HBCU football games nationally, there are no immediate plans to televise the State Fair Classic football game between Grambling State and Prairie View A&M according to Al Wash, CEO of ALW Entertainment, the event’s promoter.
Wash was a guest last week on The Mike Prince Show where he previewed the Sept. 29 contest, scheduled for the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, and discussed other challenges associated with promoting the game after over 40 years.
“TV is always a good thing if it’s something financially beneficial for the two universities,” Wash said. “If there’s no money into it for the universities why take the chance on hurting the gate’s attendance [when] people will stay will in their hotels and stay at home then to come where the universities can take home more money?”
Since recording attendance of 32,877 in 2014, the State Fair Classic has witnessed a steady increase of crowds more than 50,000. In 2017, 55,231 spectators were in attendance making the State Fair Classic the third highest attended HBCU classic game of the year behind the Bayou Classic and the Magic City Classic respectfully.
Wash spoke about the Bayou Classic, a game that’s maintained a TV partnership with NBC Sports for over two decades and managed to set post-Hurricane Katrina attendance records the last two years with crowds over 66,000 spectators. “When the [Bayou Classic] started being televised…I haven’t been back to the Bayou Classic since the second year it’s been on TV, Wash stated. “Me personally, I’d rather sit at home than to go fight all that traffic [and where] the hotels jack the rates up in New Orleans.”
With the Cotton Bowl being an outdoor venue, Wash indicated that weather conditions — and the fact that the game has yet to sell out the 94,000 seat facility — present additional reasons as to why the game, as of now, will not be televised.
“I think we’re all conscious of weather. It is an outdoor stadium. If we were in a domed stadium I would say [to broadcasting the game on TV] ‘let’s bring it on,’ Wash said. “But due to the fact that we’re outdoors, I personally feel like it would hurt the attendance. We are a long way from selling it out. We know we will be over 65,000 people this year, but the stadium holds 94,000.”
Of the top five highest attended HBCU football classic games of 2017, the State Fair Classic – ranked third on the list — was the only classic football game not televised.
The Bayou Classic was televised live on NBC Sports Network, the Magic City Classic (played outdoors) was streamed live on ESPN3 and replayed on ESPNU, the Florida Classic (played outdoors) was televised live on ESPN Classic, and the Southern Heritage Classic (played outdoors0 was tape delayed on Fox Sports South.
The entire segment can be heard below.