Santa Clara steals San Francisco bowl game

Santa Clara is making a habit of stealing football from the city of San Francisco, and frankly, it’s getting annoying.

At noon on Monday, the 49ers sent out a tweet announcing some major news involving their future stadium and a college football game.

Then, about two hours later, CBS Sports 49ers writer Kyle Bonagura spoiled the 49ers big news:

Not quite the same as Santa Clara ripping the 49ers away from San Franciscans, but still newsworthy.

I’ll be honest: I wasn’t a fan of the idea of a football game being played on what I consider sacred baseball grounds at AT&T Park. But now that it’s leaving, I’m a little disappointed.

The Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl has called AT&T Park home since 2002. Back then, it was called the San Francisco Bowl. In 2004, it became the Emerald Bowl. It took on its latest incarnation in 2010-11 season.

You have to wonder if it’s a good move for the bowl. Last year, in a match-up between UCLA and Illinois, only 29,878 showed up. Once the game moves to the new 49ers stadium, they will have to try and fill well over 60,000 seats or face images on TV of a half-full stadium.

Right now, the game is a match-up the Pac-12’s 6th place team against Navy. Next season, BYU will replace Navy. In previous years, the game “featured” bowl-eligible teams from the Pac-12 and ACC. Not exactly a sexy matchups.

Last year, Illinois played in the game because Army didn’t have enough wins to qualify for a bowl. And Illinois barely had enough. They had to appeal to the NCAA to let them play because they didn’t have enough wins against Division I-A teams.

When you combine a mediocre matchup with a shift outside a major metropolitan city, I have my doubts that the new stadium will be able to help bring in fans.

One way to increase interest in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl¬†is by attracting higher profile teams. I’ll be interested to see if the bowl is able to negotiate more of a marquee matchup for the game. That might be what it takes to avoid thousands of empty seats on game day.