FedEx bows out of Orange Bowl title slot

The Orange Bowl will no longer be sponsored by FedEx, ending the longest-running naming rights deal for a BCS game at 21 years.

A report in the Sports Business Journal said that FedEx informed ESPN it is bowing out of its sponsorship because the company didn't want a larger season-long sponsorship platform in college football, which is being asked of all BCS sponsors.

The company announced the move in a statement Monday. It said the decision was difficult but "allows us to focus and redirect our marketing efforts toward our other sports properties and marketing initiatives."

ESPN, which will begin broadcasting all of the BCS games in 2011, is currently working with Orange Bowl officials on a new sponsor.

The Orange Bowl said in a statement that "we are confident that the network will secure a name sponsor for the Orange Bowl that is beneficial for all concerned."

ESPN is responsible for lining up title sponsors for the BCS bowls as part of its contract to broadcast the games.

"We are in active discussions around the Orange Bowl, which is a premier property and presents a tremendous marketing opportunity. FedEx remains an important client and we continue to be engaged with them in other areas," ESPN's president of customer marketing and sales Ed Erhardt said in a statement e-mailed to the Sports Business Journal by ESPN's public relations department.

Renewals for sponsorships in the other major bowl games (Fiesta Bowl/Tostitos; Sugar Bowl/Allstate; Rose Bowl/Citi) are ongoing, the Journal reported. All of the title sponsorship deals ended after last season.

The Orange Bowl has struggled in ratings recently. The 2009 game between Virginia Tech and Cincinnati drew a 5.4 rating, the lowest ever for a BCS game.

Information from The Associated Press is included in this report.