Bowl, Meineke couldn't agree

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Organizers of the Meineke Bowl terminated their title sponsorship agreement effective after this year's game, which means there likely will be a different name for the event in 2011.

The move this week came after the Charlotte bowl couldn't renegotiate the contract with Driven Brands Inc., parent company of Meineke Car Care Centers, by the March 31 deadline to opt out of the final year of the contract.

Bowl officials wanted a more lucrative deal after moving up in the Atlantic Coast Conference selection order, which will mean increasing its payout per team from about $1.3 million to more than $1.8 million.

Driven Brands took over as title sponsor from Continental Tire in 2005 and has been paying about $1 million a year.

"Given the immense scale of operating a major college bowl game, the local organizing committee needed to develop a different economic model," bowl director Will Webb said. "We had hoped to negotiate with Meineke Car Care Centers on a new contract with mutually beneficial terms. Unfortunately, we were not able to do that."

Driven Brands CEO Ken Walker called the cancellation a "hurried decision" in a statement.

"There was no warning that this was even being considered, especially since we just renewed for two more years this past summer," Walker said. "We were actually encouraged that the bowl ownership was transitioning to nonprofit status since that would mean more involvement and support by the city of Charlotte and the state."

The bowl recently moved into the hands of the nonprofit group Charlotte Collegiate Football from Charlotte-based Raycom Sports. The move was made so one group would handle the bowl game and the ACC championship game, which Charlotte will host in December.

Webb, who has served as bowl director under Raycom, remains in that position. Raycom is still handling many of the management aspects of the bowl, which pits teams from the ACC and Big East at Bank of America Stadium.

Now bowl officials will seek a sponsor amid an uncertain economic climate.

"The bowl game has far exceeded expectations on all levels," Webb said. "The bowl has moved up in the selection order in the Atlantic Coast Conference to No. 4 and will continue as the No. 2 selection in the Big East Conference, both after the BCS. We are excited about a new title sponsor and look forward to continuing the major college football bowl in Charlotte."