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Officials here are busy making plans as there are now fewer than six months left before the first-ever college football bowl game bearing a credit union's name is played.

In December, San Diego will add a second college football bowl game to its calendar, with San Diego County Credit Union as the title sponsor and the Make-A-Wish Foundation of San Diego as the beneficiary.

The "San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl" will be played Dec. 22 at Qualcomm Stadium. The game will feature a school from the Mountain West Conference versus an at-large opponent.

The Poinsettia Bowl will be operated by the same committee that organizes the Holiday Bowl, a local institution. The 28th annual Pacific Life Holiday Bowl will be played one week later, on Dec. 29.

Holiday Bowl officials said last year's game generated $38.2 million in economic benefit for the San Diego region. The committee said it is hopeful the Poinsettia Bowl will bring in approximately $20 million annually during the city's slowest tourism week of the year.

The name of the new bowl comes from the popularity of the Paul Ecke Ranch in nearby Encinitas, which produces 70% of the flowering poinsettias in the United States. The poinsettia has been the official symbol of the Holiday Bowl since its inception.

Last season, in another first, America's Credit Unions sponsored the Hula Bowl Maui, a college all-star game. But bowl sponsorships usually are the realm of larger companies such as Federal Express (the FedEx Orange Bowl), Frito Lay (Tostitos Fiesta Bowl) or Toyota (Toyota Gator Bowl). Irene Oberbauer, San Diego County CU's chief operating officer, told The Credit Union Journal the sponsorship is a good deal for the credit union-whose membership is open to anyone who lives or works in San Diego or Riverside Counties.

"We are locally based in San Diego, but it benefits so much," she said. "First of all, there is the Make-A-Wish Foundation. We are a huge, title sponsor with Make-A-Wish, and are very excited to make them the beneficiary. The Make-A-Wish Foundation of San Diego will receive $1 from each ticket sold. She added that, a college bowl game means national exposure, but the tourism money comes back to San Diego.

San Diego County CU will be working in conjunction with the Make-A-Wish Foundation on a number of events and tie-ins to promote the game. Teresa Davis Pusztai, executive director of the Make-A-Wish Foundation of San Diego, said "Wish Kids" will be able to attend the game. A few Wish Kids will be chosen to perform special tasks such as tossing the coin and singing the national anthem.

"The Make-A-Wish Foundation is a non-profit organization that grants wishes to children who have life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy," she said. "San Diego County Credit Union is our largest corporate partner. They've made a big commitment to us, and they made this Poinsettia Bowl happen. After the bowl game was approved by the NCAA, they really stepped up."

Oberbauer said San Diego County CU has partnered with the Holiday Bowl for many years, and is a sponsor of the Holiday Bowl Parade, plus the hole-in-one shootout. She sees the Poinsettia Bowl as a further step up. "The opportunity presented itself to get involved in the inauguration of a historic event in San Diego," she said.

SDCCU signed on as title sponsor for two years, and the credit union has an option for a third year. Oberbauer declined to disclose the cost to the credit union. "I don't think that's such a critical thing. Every sponsorship has a dollar sign attached. The first year we are tied to, and the second year we will evaluate."

"It is very exciting, it really, truly is," she continued. "It is very exciting for San Diego -which is only the third city with more than one bowl game. And I cannot overstate our partnership with Make-A-Wish."

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