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Sun Bowl travel down for game day after Christmas

El Paso is just a week away from the 82nd annual Hyundai Sun Bowl game.

Miami from the ACC and Washington State from the Pac-12 face off Dec. 26 at high noon. But with so many fans of the teams staying at home for Christmas, will the game and our City take a big hit economically?

Ticket sales for the Sun Bowl are steady, but with the game being played the day after Christmas for the first time in 34 years, fan travel is expected to suffer some.

“The consensus is the date of the game is rough and lot of people don’t like traveling on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day,” El Paso Hotel-Motel Association President Rick LaFleur said. “It’s sad, but I understand future Sun Bowls down the road are going to be a little bit later in the week.”

Next year the game will fall on Friday, Dec. 30th, with the following year set for Friday, Dec. 29. In 2018 and 2019, the Hyundai Sun Bowl will be played on Saturdays, falling on Dec. 28 and 29, respectively.

“Luckily, they’re two Saturdays and two Fridays and two Saturdays, which is great day for a football game,” Hyundai Sun Bowl Executive Director Bernie Olivas said. “I hope that will even entice more people to come in. But right now we’re worried about this game.”

And local hotels might be a little worried, too. According to published reports, Washington State has sold fewer than 2,000 of its 6,000 Sun Bowl tickets allotment, although the web site Coug Fan Travel told ABC-7 it could book up to three charter flights to El Paso.

Numbers for Miami fans are tougher to come by, although some Hurricane fan sites have projected on Twitter fewer than 500 fans are coming to the Borderland.

“We’ll take 2,000 or 3,000 from each school and make it 6,000,” Olivas said. “That’ll fill up a lot of hotel rooms in town.”

Lafleur said whatever boost hotels don’t get from the earlier than usual Hyundai Sun Bowl game this year should be made up in February when Pope Francis comes to Juarez.

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