B-CU and FAMU Presidents Join Together, Share Friendly Rivalry, to Make Florida Classic Announcement
President Dr. Trudie Kibbe Reed and Florida A&M University (FAMU) President Dr. James H. Ammons, in concert with the Florida Classic Consortium, announced Wednesday that Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida (BCBSF) has signed on to become the title sponsor for the annual Florida Classic and the Battle of the Bands. The Consortium also announced an extension of its contract with Florida Citrus Sports that will keep the game at Orlando’s Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium for the next five years.
Joined by Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and President Ammons at a press conference at Florida Citrus Stadium, President Reed announced the commitment to remain in Orlando.
“We just want to say how much we appreciate the great city of Orlando and the county, for making us feel so comfortable here, for the commitment you have made to this game to make it bigger and better. Thank you very much to the mayor. Thank you to the commissioners. Thank you to all the fans and alumni for both institutions, because the competition is growing every day,” she said. “Since 1997, we’ve continued to get more and more participants, who come to a game, but it’s more than just one game; it is a full weekend of fun, a big-family reunion that is growing so that we have people as far away as New York City, Columbia, S.C., and all over the nation come to be a part of this magic and excitement of competition.”
The agreement with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida is for three years with an option to renew in years four and five. During that term, the game will be known as the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Florida Classic, while the Battle will now be called Florida Blue Battle of the Bands.
“Our support of the 2011 Florida Classic underscores our commitment to serve the Orlando community. BCBSF is delighted to be the title sponsor for this year’s Florida Classic and honored to stimulate an environment in which education, health and cultural institutions can better meet the needs of the community,” said Tony Jenkins, BCBSF’s market president for the Central Florida Region & FCSports executive board member.
The Florida Classic – an annual football game between B-CU and FAMU – began in 1978 and has taken place in Orlando for the the last 17 years. Since its move to Orlando in 1997, this annual clash between these two Historically Black Colleges and Universities has averaged more than 66,000 at the Citrus Bowl. The game has been a regular on national television – the ESPN network of stations since 2005.
Due in large part to the strong attendance numbers and the number of people traveling to Orlando for the week leading up to the game, the Florida Classic generated an estimated $31 million in economic impact for Central Florida last year.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida (BCBSF) is a leader in Florida’s health industry. Since 1944, the company has been dedicated to meeting the diverse needs of all those it serves by offering an array of choices. BCBSF is a not-for-profit, policyholder-owned, tax-paying mutual company.
“BCBSF is honored to sponsor and be involved with the Florida Classic. Our support of this event reinforces our commitment to building strong communities by giving back to the communities we serve. In our efforts to help every Floridian achieve better health, we are ‘In the Pursuit of Health’ and, as a result, are delighted to be a part of this great community tradition,” noted Mark Lee, BCBS vice president of brand development and marketing communications.
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About Bethune-Cookman University
Founded in 1904 by Mary McLeod Bethune, Bethune-Cookman University (B-CU) today sustains her legacy of faith, scholarship and service through its relationship with the United Methodist Church and its commitment to academic excellence and civic engagement. B-CU offers baccalaureate degrees in 37 majors through six academic schools – Arts & Humanities; Business; Education; Nursing; Science, Engineering and Mathematics; and Social Sciences – and maintains intercollegiate athletic programs and instrumental and choral groups that have achieved national recognition. Located in Daytona Beach, B-CU is one of three private historically black colleges in the state of Florida. The institution boasts a diverse and international faculty and student body of more than 3,400.