Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida is the new title sponsor for the annual Florida Classic football game between Bethune-Cookman University and Florida A&M University, as well as title sponsor of Battle of the Bands. In addition, the Florida Classic Consortium has also agreed to an extension with Florida Citrus Sports that will keep the game at Orlando’s Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium for the next five years.
The agreement with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida (BCBSF) is for three years with an option to renew in years four and five. During that term, the game will be known as the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Florida Classic, while the Battle will now be called Florida Blue Battle of the Bands.
“Our support of the 2011 Florida Classic underscores our commitment to serve the Orlando community,” said Tony Jenkins, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida’s Market President for the Central Florida Region (and a member of Florida Citrus Sports’ executive board). “BCBSF is delighted to be the title sponsor for this year’s Florida Classic and honored to stimulate an environment in which education, health and cultural institutions can better meet the needs of the community.”
The Florida Classic began in 1978 and has spent the last 17 years in Orlando. Since its move to Orlando in 1997, this annual clash between these two Historical Black Colleges and Universities has averaged more than 66,000 at the Citrus Bowl. The game has been a regular on national television — the ESPN network of stations since 2005.
Due in large part to these strong attendance numbers and the number of people traveling to Orlando for the week leading up to the game, the Florida Classic generated an estimated $31 million in economic impact for Central Florida last year.
“The Classic has had great success over the years in Orlando and we have felt a groundswell of support for the event since its first game there in 1997,” said Bethune-Cookman University President Dr. Trudie Kibbe Reed. “The great fans of these two schools have helped the event grow into what it has become. We believe in Central Florida’s commitment to the game as well as a revitalized stadium that will hopefully be home to the game for many years to come.”
“Continuing the game in Orlando provides a location in the center of the state that is not only good for our fans from a travel perspective, but also shows to our commitment to this game,” said Florida A&M University President Dr. James H. Ammons. “The Florida Classic is one of the most widely attended sporting events in the southeast and we are honored to have Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida become a title sponsor. Considering its focus on the family, we believe this is a great partnership.
“This event is a family affair and we believe with their support we can continue to make the Florida Classic an event that we can all enjoy.”
The 2011 Florida Classic will take place on Saturday, November 19. Tickets to the game and ancillary events go on sale later this summer.