Game History

cactus bowl game history

A big game has a new name.

The TicketCity Cactus Bowl, formerly known as the Insight Bowl, has become a must-see for fans and a favorite destination for teams. The renowned Big 12 and Pac-12 conferences, annually among the national leaders in attendance and television ratings, each send one of their top teams to Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Ariz.

The TicketCity Cactus Bowl annually matches the sixth selection from the Pac 12 Conference and the fifth selection from the Big 12 Conference, after College Football Playoff selections. The bowl game increased its combined payout to $6.65 million two years ago.

The 26th TicketCity Cactus Bowl will kick off at 8:15 p.m. MST on Friday, January 2, 2015. It will pair the Pac 12 and Big 12 for the first year. To date, seven different schools have represented the Big 12 – Iowa State (2009), Kansas (2008), Missouri (2010), Oklahoma (2011) Oklahoma State (2007), TCU (2012) and Texas Tech (2006). The Big Ten has sent four schools – Indiana (2007), Iowa (2010-11), Michigan State (2012) and Minnesota (2006, ’08-09).


It all started in April 1989 when the NCAA gave its stamp of approval to the non-profit Copper Bowl Foundation to host a bowl game in Tucson. After eight years at Arizona Stadium, the Arizona Sports Foundation, the operating body of the Fiesta Bowl, was approached with the idea of assuming the responsibilities of operating the Copper Bowl. The idea was met with some skepticism, but the board of directors of the Fiesta Bowl realized it was a great opportunity to keep the game moving forward for the good of college football.

On September 23, 1997, the Arizona Sports Foundation assumed the operating responsibilities of the bowl and signed a letter of agreement to acquire the Copper Bowl. This was an unprecedented move in college athletics and marked the first time in history two bowl games would be operated by the same organization. Under the direction of the Fiesta Bowl, the Copper Bowl was renamed the Bowl when Tempe-based Insight Enterprises, Inc., signed a long-term deal to be title sponsor of the game on Nov. 6, 1997.

On April 26, 2000, the leaders of the Bowl were approached with an option to host the game in Phoenix’s state-of-the-art Chase Field, home of Major League Baseball’s Arizona Diamondbacks. With an opportunity to transform the game in a unique venue, the decision was made to move the contest to the Valley of the Sun.

On September 18, 2002, title sponsor Insight Enterprises, Inc., announced that the Bowl would be called the Insight Bowl. The new name and a new logo represented the company’s continued growth beyond dot-com status and more appropriately reflected its expansion in customer base, product and service offerings. Insight Enterprises, Inc., and the City of Tempe signed an eight-year agreement on July 14, 2005 to host the Insight Bowl at Sun Devil Stadium, maintaining the tradition of a bowl game in Tempe.

In January 2012, Insight Enterprises announced that it was ending its 14-year partnership with the bowl. Several months later, the game was renamed the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl. Buffalo Wild Wings, Inc. was founded in 1982 and is headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota.