EAST-WEST SHRINE GAME
All-Star tilt heads East once again
From Bay Area to San Antonio to Reliant Stadium
Jan. 15, 2007, 6:03PM
By JOSEPH DUARTE
Years of declining attendance in San Francisco and a desire to be closer to a large portion of the nation's Shriners led the East-West Shrine Game to relocate to Houston.
"In the last several years as the Shriner organization has changed, we've looked to make the game more of a national event, as opposed to a West Coast event," Shrine Game executive director Jack Hart said.
After an 80-year run in the Bay Area, the Shrine Game — the nation's oldest college all-star game — relocated in 2004 after years of waning support. A move to the Alamodome in San Antonio last year produced the game's smallest turnout (18,533) since 1927.
"Frankly, it didn't work," Hart said. "That was a decision that was corrected."
For the first time, the Shrine Game has the complete backing of the NFL — including use of Texans facilities, game officials and equipment, plus the presence of coaches Don Shula and Dan Reeves — with its move to Houston. The game will be played Saturday night at Reliant Stadium.
The game also secured a sponsorship with Austin-based Dell Computers.
Hart said the push to move the game stemmed from the fact two-thirds of the Shriners' 411,000 members are located in the central and eastern parts of the United States.
There are 22 Shriners locations nationwide that provide orthopedic and burn care at no cost to children, , including Houston and Galveston.
To date, the Shrine Game has raised more than $14 million to help more than 770,000 children.
This year's game will be played outside the Bay Area for only the third time. It was moved to New Orleans during World War II in 1942.
The game currently has a one-year agreement with Houston, but Hart is optimistic a long-term deal can be reached.