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Lions, Quick Lane extend Ford Field college bowl naming rights deal through 2019


The Detroit Lions said Thursday that Dearborn-based Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center will extend its title sponsorship of the annual college football bowl game at Ford Field for three more seasons.

Financial terms were not disclosed. The extension takes the naming rights sponsorship through 2019.

The Quick Lane Bowl was launched in 2014, and this year's game is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. Dec. 26 on ESPN.

Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center, a chain of more than 700 auto service outlets created by Ford Motor Co. for its Ford and Lincoln dealerships, in 2014 agreed to pay the Lions $1.8 million over three years for the title sponsorship. Quick Lane and the Lions ultimately are owned by the Ford family.

"We are so proud of this annual event which brings national attention to the city of Detroit that we are committing to another multiyear sponsorship," said Brett Wheatley, executive director, North America, Ford Customer Service Division, in a statement. "This partnership both builds awareness of the great service people can get at Quick Lane Tire and Auto centers and delivers something we know football fans appreciate; a great game."

"We are very excited to be extending our bowl game's title sponsor agreement with Quick Lane for an additional three years," Detroit Lions President Rod Wood said in a statement. "Quick Lane has been a great partner as we've worked collaboratively to build upon the game's success each year. We look forward to continuing our shared mission of making Detroit a college bowl destination."

The Quick Lane Bowl's primary tie-ins (under six-year contracts) are the Big Ten and Atlantic Coast conferences, but teams from other conferences are eligible. Rather than an automatic berth based on conference finish, the participating Quick Lane Bowl teams are selected by the conferences and the bowl staff at the end of the season.

Last year's game, which saw the University of Minnesota beat Central Michigan University 21-14, drew 34,217 fans. The inaugural game, Rutgers University beating the University of North Carolina 40-21, attracted 23,876.

College bowls in 2015-16 averaged 45,131 fans.

Each of the participating Quick Lane Bowl schools last year got a $1.2 million payout for participating in the game. Money for the payouts and to stage the bowl come largely from the game's corporate sponsorships. The bowl's other major financial sponsors have been Meijer Inc. and the UAW. Their financial contributions have not been disclosed.

The game replaced the Motor City Bowl that began at the Pontiac Silverdome in 1997. It moved with the Lions to Ford Field in 2002, and became the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl from 2009-13. That game, produced by outside organizers who leased Ford Field from the Lions for the game, ended as sponsorship dollars dried up amid struggles every year to find quality participants.

The Quick Lane Bowl has floated a bit on the TV schedule. Last year's game was played at 5 p.m. and it aired on ESPN 2. The first Quick Lane Bowl kicked off at 4:30 p.m. on Dec. 26, 2014, and it aired on ESPN.

The bowl is produced by the Lions' in-house entertainment division, DLI Entertainment. It promotes and helps organize many of the large-scale shows, events and non-Lions games at Ford Field.

Tickets are available here.