Penn National Barstool Sports Unit Grabs Naming Rights to Arizona Bowl

Posted on: July 27, 2021, 07:46h. 

Last updated on: July 28, 2021, 09:23h.

The Arizona Bowl, a mid-tier college football bowl game, is climbing the ranks in terms of nifty sponsorship, as Barstool Sports has signed on to sponsor the New Year’s Eve contest.

arizona bowl
Scenes from the 2019 Arizona Bowl. Penn National’s Barstool Sports is the game’s new sponsor. (Image: Georgia State Signal)

Barstool Sports, a pop culture and sports media blog founded by David Portnoy, is 36 percent-owned by Penn National Gaming (NASDAQ:PENN). Under the terms of that deal struck in January 2020, the regional casino operator has rights to eventually acquire the media enterprise outright for $450 million.

While obviously sponsoring a Bowl game is a big deal in itself, we aren’t simply slapping our name on this and running away,” said Portnoy earlier today. “We also have exclusive broadcasting rights, meaning the game will air only on Barstool Sports channels on New Years Eve Day, with Barstool personalities fully immersed in the broadcast. (Smell ya later, CBS).”

The choice words for CBS reference the fact that not only is Barstool sponsoring the game, it’s also acquiring its broadcast rights. The Arizona Bowl won’t air on CBS this year, but it will be broadcast on Barstool’s streaming platforms, including the Barstool Sportsbook mobile app.

Portnoy Notches Win

Grabbing the naming and broadcast rights to the Arizona Bowl is a coup for Portnoy, who has long made clear his intent to associate his company with a bowl game.

Barstool tried in 2019, attempting to become the sponsor of a bowl game played in Mobile, Ala. But ESPN interfered, scrapping the deal at the eleventh hour. Sponsorship rights for that game ultimately went to LendingTree.

“This is true. ESPN killed it because they are scared of us. Honestly, I would have killed it if I was them, too. No need to feed the company that is eventually going to eat you. Just a matter of time till we get a bowl game though,” said Portnoy at the time.

Regarding the Arizona Bowl, Portnoy says it’s “true partnership” between the game and Barstool, and that his company will be involved with it for “the foreseeable future.” The contest features teams from the Mid-American Conference (MAC) and the Mountain West Conference (MWC).

Potential Boon for Penn, Too

Association with a bowl game in Arizona could be a potential boon for Penn, too, because that state recently legalized sports wagering. It’s expected it will be operational there in time for the start of the upcoming NFL season in September.

While Penn doesn’t operate a land-based casino in the state, it’s making clear that it wants Barstool Sportsbook to be a player in that market.

“To date, eight sportsbooks have closed deals that would give them market access. Most recently, Penn National Gaming announced a partnership with NASCAR that would allow Barstool Sportsbook to operate within the state. It is rumored that September 9th is the planned launch date for Arizona sports betting,” said Roundhill Investments analyst Matias Dorta in a note.