From the opening kickoff on December 22, 1978 and throughout its 30 year history, the Holiday Bowl has generated $480 million for the city of San Diego. Originally conceived to annually feature the Western Athletic Conference champion against a nationally ranked opponent, the game now serves the Pac 10 runner-up as the game’s anchor team opposing the third team out of the Big 12. Played at Qualcomm Stadium, previously known as San Diego Stadium and Jack Murphy Stadium, the Holiday Bowl has a reputation of being one of the most entertaining games on the college bowl schedule. In fact, of the 30 games played, 17 have had victory margins of 7 points or less and the outcome of 19 games have been decided in the final two minutes. The Holiday Bowl record books include a five touchdown performance in 1988 from Barry Sanders, who would go on to become one of the greatest NFL running backs, and four touchdown passes in 1980 from BYU’s Jim McMahan who won a Super Bowl five years later with the Chicago Bears.
Included in the game’s festivities is The Port of San Diego Big Bay Balloon Parade. Known as “America’s Largest Balloon Parade”, this exciting event for the entire family includes world class marching bands, brilliant floats, entertaining drill teams, and the largest procession of gigantic balloons in America. After the parade, the activities continue on the Broadway Pier at the annual Family Festival. If you plan to attend the parade, Qualcomm Stadium offers free parking from where you can take the trolley directly to the parade site.
The Holiday Bowl presents an annual scholarship award to a high school senior from San Diego County who has excelled academically and within the community. Extracurricular citizenship and leadership activities are notably important criteria for this award. The award is a stipend of $10,000 and is presented to the recipient at the Holiday Bowl Kickoff Luncheon held in late December. Last year, the game brought over 30,000 visitors to San Diego who filled more than 22,000 hotel room nights and contributed $30 million to the local economy.