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Orange Changeup

The matchup for the 2008 FedEx Orange Bowl has tourism officials envisioning wintry weather in Kansas and Virginia and counting the years since the University of Kansas and Virginia Tech last played in the Orange Bowl.

Those are the factors that will help determine if the teams "travel well" -- that's the term that describes teams that have strong fan bases that make the trip to watch their teams in games on the road. It's unclear exactly how well the teams will travel, but tourism and Orange Bowl officials and others think this could be another good year. The 2007 matchup of Louisville and Wake Forest, two teams that had never been to a BCS Bowl or the Orange Bowl, meant plenty of visitors who stayed in hotels, and ate in local restaurants.

Both Kansas and Virginia Tech are large schools with more than 25,000 students each. Kansas will make its first appearance in the BCS and hasn't played in the Orange Bowl since 1969, when it lost to Penn State. Virginia Tech played in the Orange Bowl in 1996, losing to Nebraska in the first Orange Bowl game to be held in what is now called Dolphin Stadium, after the game was moved from its namesake Orange Bowl Stadium.

"I think that it's a changeup," said Kathleen Davis, executive director of Sport Management Research Institute, which has an office in West Palm Beach and has previously studied the economic impact of the Orange Bowl game and its accompanying events. "It's over 10 years for the one team and [almost 40] for the other."

"Historically Virginia Tech's got a great reputation for traveling to the bowl," Orange Bowl Committee spokesman Larry Wahl said. "They were very strong in Jacksonville this past weekend for the ACC championship."

Wahl said at least 15,000 Hokies fans attended the game against Boston College.

Both Orange Bowl Committee and Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau representatives are visiting Lawrence, Kan., and Blacksburg, Va., to pitch the game and the region, in the hope that will spur more visitors as well.

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About the author
CRAIG DAVIS In more than 33 years at the Sun Sentinel, Craig Davis has written about a wide variety of sports topics from baseball to yachting, fishing to triathlons, and also worked as a copy editor and page designer. Recently he reported on local sports, including running, swimming, cycling, equestrian and beach volleyball. He enjoys sports as a participant as well as a spectator, is active in the South Florida running scene plays in the curling club at Saveology Iceplex. This blog offers a glimpse at the business side of sports in the interest of enhancing enjoyment of the games and sporting options as a spectator as well as a participant.
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