10th Anniversary Kickoff Celebration

Fort Worth, Texas, May 10, 2012 - It may be spring right now, but football season isn’t far away in Texas and a unique kickoff celebration was held Thursday at Amon G. Carter Stadium on the campus of TCU to launch activities in the Metroplex as the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl returns home for its 10th anniversary celebration.

Among the several hundred people attending the special function at the Moncrief Club in the south end zone of the newly-renovated stadium were representatives from the City of Fort Worth, Bell Helicopter and ESPN.

Owned and operated by ESPN Regional Television (ERT), the nationally-broadcasted 10th annual Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl will air on ESPN and ESPN Radio and will be played Saturday, Dec. 29 at Amon G. Carter Stadium with a 10:45 a.m. (CT) kickoff.

The Honorable Betsy Price (pictured), Mayor of Fort Worth, was one of the featured speakers at the Thursday afternoon function along with Pete Riley, Executive Vice President of Integrated Operations at Bell Helicopter.  Also speaking were Pete Derzis, Senior Vice President and General Manager of ESPN Regional Television, and Brant Ringler, Executive Director of the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl.  Emcee for Thursday’s event was veteran Metroplex television personality Scott Murray.

The post-season football game returns to Amon G. Carter Stadium after playing the past two seasons at Gerald J. Ford Stadium in Dallas.  The $164-million renovations to Amon G. Carter Stadium were announced in August 2010 and construction began immediately following the 2010 regular season.  Capacity for the completed Amon G. Carter Stadium will be 45,000.

“Is this not the greatest city in the world to live in,” reflected Mayor Price, the 44th mayor in Fort Worth history who was an active part of the volunteer staff of the BHAFB during its inaugural year in 2003. “As the new mayor of Fort Worth, I am very fortunate to inherit this wonderful event that honors our amazing military and I have great memories of our experience serving as a volunteer for the first game in 2003.

“We sincerely appreciate all that ESPN and Bell Helicopter do for our community and for our military men and women through this event. We encourage everyone to get involved in this event and I want to be the first to purchase tickets for this year’s game which I know will be another tremendous opportunity to showcase everything that Fort Worth has to offer.”

Among the other announcements at the event was the contract extension announcement for 2013 and 2014 by Bell Helicopter, the Fort Worth-based international company that has been the title sponsor of the Armed Forces Bowl since 2006.

“On behalf of our 11,300 employees, Bell Helicopter is looking forward to returning to our home in Fort Worth and are very excited to host the game in the newly renovated Amon G. Carter Stadium,” stated Riley on behalf of Bell Helicopter, which has been the title sponsor of the BHAFB since 2006. “As we enjoy the excitement of the game, let us not lose sight of the men and women in uniform who show their commitment to their country every day by making sacrifices for the defense of freedom around the globe.”

Riley added, “Finally, we would also like to thank the sponsors and the hundreds of volunteers who make the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl happen. Without your willingness to donate your time and talent we would not be able to showcase the hospitality of North Texas and our great City of Fort Worth.”

A video highlighting the top 10 moments of the first nine Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowls was also shown to the more than 200 attendees at the 10th anniversary kickoff event.  The 2009 game, which saw the United States Air Force Academy defeat the University of Houston, 47-20 had the top spot, featuring back-to-back kickoff returns by the Cougars and Falcons, a first in NCAA bowl history. The narrator of the four-minute video was former NFL player and current ESPN commentator Jesse Palmer.

“This is a very special day to come together here in Fort Worth to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl and reflect on all the people who have been a part of it for the past decade,” said Derzis, who helped to establish this game in Fort Worth and has been part of the BHAFB since its inception. “It’s amazing to witness the passion of not only the 18 teams who have competed in this game, but the hundreds of volunteers who have given so much to help the success of this event.

“From the first meeting over 10 years ago to this very day, this event has truly become much, much more than a bowl game. ESPN is privileged to work with an outstanding company like Bell Helicopter and have such a dedicated staff to work together with the amazing volunteers to put together a fitting tribute each year to our unbelievable military personnel who give so much on behalf of our country. We sincerely thank everyone involved for the first 10 years and look forward to being in Fort Worth for another inspiring decade.”

More than a bowl game, the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl has featured a military theme since 2006. Patriotic overtones recognizing all five branches of the military are prevalent throughout the game. Past Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowls have included fan-fest adventure areas showcasing military hardware; flyovers; demonstrations by several of the military's top skydiving teams; the awarding of custom homes to wounded warriors; on-field induction ceremonies; military bands and honor guards; and the awarding of the annual "Great American Patriot Award" (GAPA) presented by Armed Forces Insurance.

“Who’s happy to have our game back in Fort Worth,” asked Ringler, who has been part of the BHAFB staff since 2004 and the executive director since 2009, as he addressed the enthusiastic crowd. “Amon G. Carter stadium is our home and what a home our friends at TCU are building for Fort Worth. I think people get the point that we truly have an event in the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl that is More Than A Bowl Game. And, we’re excited to be fully back in Fort Worth and to work alongside great people every day that wish to make this event something our city and be proud of and wish to be part of year in and year out.

“And I know everyone in this room holds this same Fort Worth spirit and will do their part to make sure our stadium is full come game day, so we can properly honor and recognize our men and women of the United States Armed Forces.”

Ticket information for the 2012 Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl will be released this summer and will be available at ArmedForcesBowl.com. Military veterans and active-duty personnel receive free admittance via the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl corporate military ticket underwriting program.  For additional information on all bowl activities, please visit ArmedForcesBowl.com, Facebook.com/ArmedForcesBowl or Twitter.com/ArmedForcesBowl.