Sponsors save 2003 Spud Bowl

Janessica Sanchez

This year’s Shrine Potato Bowl may be the last of its kind, said Gene Grice, the chairman of the Potato Bowl Committee.

“I have made some contacts, and we are in fact thinking about next year,” said Grice. “I have talked to the CIF and we are talking about starting a high school Potato Bowl if this in fact is going to be the last year. But future years, who knows what that can hold?”

But no matter what happens, the Shrine Club plans to hold something “Potato” to raise money for the Shriners Hospitals for Children, he said.

“Our main issue is that it is such a tradition and so we just hate to see it go away,” said Grice. “Whether it is going to be a high school Potato Bowl, or who knows maybe even arena football Potato Bowl, it can be anything.”

After the recent controversy about whether the Potato Bowl would be held this year at Bakersfield College, BC officials considered starting a football bowl game here.

“I have made contacts with about 10 other potential sponsors, to host a bowl of some type next year,” said Jan Stuebbe, BC athletics director.

The Potato Bowl will be held Nov. 22 in Memorial Stadium.

The club found two sponsors, Venture Out and Big-O Tires, to provide the $9,500 required by the Commission on Athletics to host the game.

That fee almost ended the Potato Bowl tradition.

“Last year was the least amount in 50 years the Potato Bowl has ever raised for the COA, and the hospital,” said Grice. “I think we sent a total of $1,800 to the COA.”

When it appeared the club could not guarantee the fee, the community stepped forward, Stuebbe said.

“It has been part of the community and a landmark in town for a long time,” he said. “We are glad it’s back on.”