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College Football

ESPN Events To Bring MEAC/SWAC Challenge to Atlanta in 2018

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Prairie View A&M to take on North Carolina Central at Georgia State Stadium

The MEAC/SWAC Challenge – an early season matchup of HBCU football teams from the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) and the Southwest Athletic Conference (SWAC) – will make its home in Atlanta at “Pete Petit Field” at Georgia State Stadium beginning in 2018. On Sunday, Sept. 2, the ESPN Events-owned and operated game will see the SWAC’s Prairie View A&M take on MEAC team North Carolina Central live on ESPN2. The new, three-year agreement ensures the contest will be played annually on Sunday of Labor Day Weekend – college football’s traditional ‘opening weekend’ of play.

Entering its 14th year, the MEAC/SWAC Challenge will return to a neutral site rather than a campus of one of the participating teams, and take place in the same city as the Celebration Bowl that features the MEAC and SWAC champions competing in a bowl season-opening championship game. The 2018 Celebration Bowl is set for Saturday, Dec. 15, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium and will be televised live on an ESPN network.

“In addition to being a hotbed for college football fandom, Atlanta is a culturally diverse city, with a rich history of HBCU education and excellence. To begin the HBCU football season in the same city it concludes in, will give fans two vibrant touchpoints for the excitement and pageantry of these matchups,” said John Grant, ESPN Events’ executive director of the Celebration Bowl.

MEAC Commissioner Dennis Thomas said, “I am proud to continue this extraordinary event that showcases the excellent student-athletes and coaches from both the MEAC and the SWAC on a national stage. We have a tremendous partnership with ESPN and we appreciate all of their efforts on behalf of both conferences.”

SWAC Interim Commissioner, Edgar Gantt, said, “The MEAC/SWAC Challenge is a great contest that our coaches and student-athletes look forward to competing in year after year. ESPN Events has done a wonderful job in making sure the MEAC/SWAC Challenge is a first-class event that ultimately sets the stage for the road back to Atlanta.”

Additional details about ticket packages and events surrounding MEAC/SWAC Challenge weekend will be announced in the coming months.

About the MEAC/SWAC Challenge
The MEAC/SWAC Challenge is an annual game that features teams from the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) and the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC). Launched in 2005 and played on Labor Day Weekend, the matchup was held for its first three years at historic Legion Field in Birmingham, Ala. In 2008, the event moved to Citrus Bowl Stadium in Orlando, Fla.

In 2016, the Challenge started a two-year period of playing at campus sites. The 2016 game was hosted by the MEAC at Bethune-Cookman, while the 2017 event was hosted by the SWAC at Southern University.

The MEAC/SWAC Challenge is owned and operated by ESPN Events. Visit www.meacswacchallenge.com.

About ESPN Events
ESPN Events, a division of ESPN, owns and operates a large portfolio of 31 collegiate sporting events worldwide. The roster includes three Labor Day weekend college football games; FCS opening-weekend game; 14 college bowl games, 11 college basketball events and two college award shows, which accounts for approximately 300-plus hours of programming, reaches almost 64 million viewers and attracts over 700,000 attendees each year. With satellite offices in Albuquerque, Birmingham, Boca Raton, Boise, Dallas-Fort Worth, Honolulu, Las Vegas, Montgomery and St. Petersburg, ESPN Events builds relationships with conferences, schools and local communities, as well as providing unique experiences for teams and fans. ESPN Events also manages the Big 12 Corporate Partner Program.

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