SAN FRANCISCO — The Fight Hunger Bowl is keeping its cause even without its title sponsor.
The San Francisco-based bowl game that will be played Friday between BYU and Washington will still be focused on feeding the hungry even though Kraft Foods declined an option on its contract, leaving the bowl without a title sponsor.
Instead of seeking a new sponsor or new name for the bowl in its final year in San Francisco before moving to the 49ers’ new stadium in Santa Clara next year, executive director Gary Cavalli decided to keep the Fight Hunger name for a final year.
“We had to evaluate whether we wanted to call it something different like the San Francisco Bowl for one year or whether to keep the fight hunger cause going,” Cavalli said. “We wanted to continue the fight hunger cause, and it was less confusing not to have an interim name.”
The only other bowl without a title sponsor or presenter this year is the Texas Bowl.
Cavalli expects to have a new title sponsor announced early next year when the bowl is expected to have a higher profile. Starting with a six-year contract in 2014, the bowl will move up in the pecking order in the Pac-12 with the fourth choice of teams, matched up against a team finishing between fifth and seventh in the Big Ten.
Kraft sponsored the game the past three years and dedicated it to addressing the problem of hunger in America. The bowl donated more than 300,000 meals to Bay Area food banks during that time, and players in the game spent Christmas Day serving meals at local shelters.
“The teams that have been here the last three years said the fight hunger component made the game more meaningful and more special to them,” Cavalli said. “The experience of distributing food to the hungry on Christmas Day is something they will remember for the rest of their lives.”
But Kraft split into two companies last year, with its snack foods division becoming Mondelez International and dedicating most of its marketing money to markets outside the United States.
Kraft paid the bowl about $3.5 million over the three years. Other sponsors stepped up their funding, including Wells Fargo, RBC Wealth Management, YP.com, Allstate and the Hotel Nikko. Mondelez also chipped in some money despite not being a title sponsor but the bowl does have less revenue this year.
“We had to cut some expenses,” Cavalli said. “We had to tighten the leash a little bit. It’s nothing that will be too noticeable to anybody. But we did have to cut expenses.”
The most notable change will be the lack of 2,000 temporary bleacher seats at AT&T Park that cost $40 per seat to install. Capacity will be about 38,000, and the bowl is expecting to sell about 35,000 tickets.