Barstool Takes Another Blow as Arizona Bowl Is Called Off

Sports bettors will feel disappointed that so many college games have been called off because of COVID-19, but the cancelation of the Arizona Bowl is devastating for Barstool Sports. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Number of games called off

For sports bettors, the cancelation of a number college football games is a major end-of-year mood damper. The cancelation of the Barstool Sports Arizona Bowl announced Monday evening, however, is a yet another significant body blow to the eponymously named sportsbook that pumped millions of dollars into sponsoring it.

Barstool Sports got onto Twitter Tuesday to officially announce the cancelation of event it had pinned such high hopes on.

According to the New York-based digital media firm, the decision to nix the game came after Boise State withdrew from its game against Central Michigan, citing COVID-19 issues within its locker room.

action available to sports bettors is rapidly shrinking

The Arizona Bowl is the latest casualty in a list of NCAA bowl games canceled because of suspected COVID-19 outbreaks in colleges. Virginia versus Southern Methodist in the Wasabi Fenway Bowl, Hawaii versus Memphis in the EasyPost Hawaii Bowl, and East Carolina versus Boston College in the Military Bowl have all been called off.

With so many college games off the table — plus NFL franchises Baltimore Ravens, Houston Texans, New Orleans Saints, and New York Jets reporting double-digit players on the COVID-19/reserve list, and three NFL games shifted last week for related reasons — the action available to sports bettors is rapidly shrinking.

Salt in Barstool’s wounds

Judging by the comments from organizations connected to the Arizona Bowl, the pain of the cancelation is clearly evident. Stoolstreams broadcaster Jake Marsh expressed his devastation, saying he “was really looking forward to calling this game.”

Sports broadcaster at Barstool and SiriusXM Kayce Smith said “this fucking SUCKS […] The Arizona Bowl was something our entire company has been looking forward to for much longer than it’s been public.”

Journalist and Barstool podcaster Dan “Big Cat” Katz shared his devastation via Twitter:

Along with the significant financial loss of the cancelation, the Arizona Bowl would have, on the surface at least, dispelled some of the doom and gloom hovering over Barstool. The beleaguered outfit is also dragging others such as Penn National, which owns a 36% state in the firm, into its negative orbit. Penn’s shares tanked 20% in November after three women went public with “violent sex” claims against Barstool CEO Dave Portnoy, leading to Penn National’s market capitalization shedding around $2.6bn in value.

About the money?

Back in July, when Barstool first landed the Arizona Bowl rights, Portnoy was exuberant.

In his blog piece in July, Portnoy said Barstool’s ambition is “to own the moon” and that the Arizona Bowl deal was “a major breakthrough in that regard.” He added: “We control everything. The bowl, the broadcast, the halftime show, the national anthem.”

What a difference a few months make.

Portnoy also got onto Twitter to vent his frustration at the cancelation, saying it “Came down to money.”

Boise State’s opponent in the Arizona Bowl, Central Michigan, is now heading to El Paso to take on Washington State in the Sun Bowl. According to Ray Dellenger of Sports Illustrated, the Sun Bowl comes with a $4.55m payout, while the Arizona Bowl’s is reportedly just $350,000.

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