Aug. 18, 2005
CBS wire reports

LAS VEGAS -- The Las Vegas Bowl will get first pick of Mountain West Conference teams beginning in 2006 under a four-year contract extension announced Thursday.


A week ago, the Pac-10 extended its commitment to the Las Vegas Bowl through 2009. The Pac-10 plans to send its fourth-place finisher to Las Vegas in 2006 and 2008, and the fifth-place team in 2007 and 2009.

The bowl will increase its payout to the Mountain West representative to $1 million in 2006, while the Pac-10 team will get $950,000.

MWC Commissioner Craig Thompson said Las Vegas was an attractive site for fans.

"We've clearly heard from our fans that that's a place they want to go to a bowl game," he said.

Bowl director Tina Kunzer-Murphy said the game won't necessarily feature the Mountain West champion.

"For us, it's really important to have a little bit of flexibility," she said. "We hope in years to select the champion. It's a matter of being able to match up the best team, and teams that travel well and meet attendance requirements."

This year's game on Dec. 22 will pit the No. 5 Pac-10 finisher against a Mountain West Conference representative at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas.

The Las Vegas Bowl announcement comes a day after the Fort Worth Bowl announced it will feature one of the top three Mountain West teams from 2006-09. That deal could allow for new MWC member TCU to play a bowl game at home.

Other Mountain West schools are Air Force, Brigham Young, Colorado State, New Mexico, San Diego State, UNLV, Utah and Wyoming.

The Associated Press News Service

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