The MAACO Bowl Las Vegas started as the California Raisin Bowl and was played in Fresno, California, from 1981- 1991.
In 1992, Vegas community leaders, interested in securing an event that would bring people into the city during what was normally a slow time for business, managed to secure the rights to the post-season contest. With the change of venue, the bowl was named after the city to which it moved, and it was dubbed the Las Vegas Bowl. For years, the bowl was the first one of the post season. In 2001, it was moved to December 21 and since that time it has gravitated around and sometimes to Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
The bowl originally matched up the title winners of the Big West and Mid-American conferences. The initial Las Vegas Bowl featured Bowling Green and Nevada in a contest that focused on dueling offenses. In what was considered by many to be the best and most exciting bowl of the 1992- 1993 post-season, Bowling Green squeaked by Nevada 35- 34.
Over the years, it has been sponsored by EA Sports (1999), SEGA (2001- 2002) and the Pioneer Corporation (2003- 2008). It became the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas in 2009. MAACO, a national car repair company specializing in collision repair and automobile painting, has agreed to sponsor the event for three years.
The game, which is held at Sam Boyd Stadium, Las Vegas, Nevada, presently features a match up between either the championship or a first selection team from the Mountain West Conference (MWC) and the fourth or fifth-place club from the Pac-12. The payout to each participating school is $1,000,000.
Sam Boyd Stadium, which is located on the UNLV campus and is the home of the university’s Runnin’ Rebels, holds 40,000 fans. The stadium was built in 1971 for $3.5 million. Since that time is has gone through numerous upgrades and renovations, including the addition of numerous VIP areas.
Brigham Young University has made the most Las Vegas Bowl appearances (4) and has a record of 2- 2. Nevada and UCLA have both been to this bowl three times and both have won it once. UNLV and Utah are both 2- 0 in this post-season contest. There have been 17 games played, including those of the California Raisin Bowl.
Here are a few fun facts regarding this game. In 2002, New Mexico's Katie Hnida became the first woman to play in a Division I football game when she attempted an extra point against UCLA.
In the last 10 years, Pac-12 teams have been to this bowl nine times. They have an overall record of 5- 4. Teams now in the Mountain West Conference have been to a total of 13 Vegas Bowl games, earning a 7- 6 record.
The most points scored by two teams in this contest were 77 in 1995 when Toledo beat Nevada 40- 37 in overtime. In 2003, Oregon State scored the most points by one team, putting 55 on the board. The fewest points by one team were six. Those were scored by USC when they played Utah in 2001. That game also saw the fewest number of total points scored by two teams in the Las Vegas Bowl as the Utes put just 10 on the board and the point totals came in at 16. Utah took that game 10- 6.
The Las Vegas Bowl has become very popular, partly due to the quality of opponents and also due to the fact that it is held at a venue located in the middle of the nation’s gambling and entertainment Mecca. Additionally, the MWC and Pac-12 match up plays on what is a natural rivalry between two closely related regional conferences, each of which wants to prove their superiority. From 2005 to 2009 the Las Vegas Bowls have sold out.