Tucson, Little Rock want bowl games

Tucson, Arizona, will apply for a new bowl game this season, while Little Rock, Arkansas, has "strong interest" in also adding a game, sources said Monday.

The deadline to apply for new bowl certification with the NCAA is Wednesday, and the organization will decide whether to approve a game a few weeks later. According to sources, if a bowl has two conferences to support it and can get a television network to show the game, the bowl is usually approved by the NCAA.

Tucson is expected to apply Tuesday, while Little Rock officials are finalizing plans with the hope of applying for a game this season, sources said.

If successful, the addition of Tucson and Little Rock bowl games -- along with the new Cure Bowl in Orlando -- would increase the number of bowls to 42, including the College Football Playoff title game. That means 82 teams will be needed to fill the bowls, or 65 percent of the 127 FBS teams this season.

And there could be even more bowls in 2016. The Pac-12 had exploratory discussions about starting a bowl in Melbourne, Australia, this year, but is now targeting the 2016 season, sources said.

The working title for the Tucson bowl is the Arizona Bowl and would be played at the University of Arizona. It would feature teams from the Mountain West and Conference USA in its debut season.

The Arizona Bowl likely would be played between Christmas and early January, said Alan Young, chief operating officer for the Arizona Sports and Entertainment Commission. Fox Sports or CBS Sports Network is the most likely candidate to televise the Arizona Bowl, sources said.

The Arizona Bowl would bring a bowl game back to Tucson for the first time since 1999. The Copper Bowl was located in Tucson from 1989 through 1999; in 1998 and 1999 it was called the Insight.com Bowl -- until Fiesta Bowl officials moved the bowl to Phoenix in 2000. It has been in the Phoenix/Tempe area ever since and was renamed the Cactus Bowl last season.

The Little Rock bowl, which would be played at War Memorial Stadium, would pair teams from the American and Sun Belt conferences, sources said. CBS Sports Network or NBC Sports Network is the likely broadcast partner, sources said.

The Cure Bowl, to be played Dec. 19 at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, will pit teams from the American and Sun Belt and will be televised on CBS Sports Network.