Wave Wire Services
INGLEWOOD — The LA Bowl is getting a new name, with former New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski replacing talk show host Jimmy Kimmel as the official host of the game.
The annual contest at SoFi Stadium, which was called the Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl for its first two years, will now be called The LA Bowl Hosted by Gronk.
“Football has brought me so many incredible opportunities, and I’m thrilled to return to college football as the host of my very own bowl game,” Gronkowski said in a statement. “We are going to light up college football bowl season. This game is going to be epic, so I better see everyone at the LA Bowl Hosted by Gronk at SoFi Stadium on Dec. 16.”
Gronkowski played 11 seasons in the NFL. He retired in 2019 after three Super Bowl championships with the Patriots only to return in 2020 and play another two seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, winning a fourth Super Bowl with quarterback Tom Brady.
Chris Sloan, the head of global partnerships for SoFi Stadium, told the Los Angeles Times that Gronkowski was a perfect fit as the new host.
“We made a two-year deal with Jimmy and he was great, and it was how do we keep the momentum going from that? How do we stick out as the L.A. Bowl?” Sloan said. “And really we looked across a wide array of opportunities to make that happen and as we kind of got down to it, Gronk just made a ton of sense.
“He’s an exciting guy, a football guy. He’s a Pac-12 former player. He’s looking to do really cool and interesting things with his brand post-retirement. And I would say he’s been nothing but engaged through the process, so we’re super excited to work with him and see where this game goes.”
The former player will be heavily involved in promotional efforts.
“I’m gonna be bringing the Gronk brand to the game, there’s no doubt about that, which includes energy, excitement, electricity and much more,” he said, according to The Times. “There’ll be dancing, there’ll be competitions with the fans, we’ll be creating food and beverage ideas, I’m gonna challenge the mascots to a dance-off as well and also there’s going to be a live performance by me — it may be at the beginning of the game, it may be at halftime, but I’m gonna be doing a live performance myself as well.”
The game will be played on Dec. 16 at 4:30 p.m., and will pit the fifth- or sixth-place team from the Pac-12 against the top team in the Mountain West Conference. The Mountain West Conference representative as won the first two L.A. Bowl games.
The 2022 game was played on Dec. 17, with Fresno State earning a 29-6 victory over Washington State.
Utah State defeated Oregon State in the 2021 game, 24-13.