The NOKIA Sugar Bowl was started back in October 1934 as the Sugar Bowl Football Classic. The idea for a New Orleans based New Year’s Day game was first floated by Colonel James Thomson and Fred Digby back in 1927.
Every fall Digby then outlined a mid-winter calendar of sports and gave the game its Sugar Bowl name. The idea began to catch on with civic and political leaders discussing it’s potential. In 1929, Mayor A.J. O’Keefe sent a delegation to the Southern Conference asking approval of a proposed New Orleans game. The request was rejected.
On February 15, 1934, the New Orleans Mid-Winter Sports Association was formally organized under a constitution and by-laws were written by Mr. Miller.
Even after the birth of the association, its future looked dark because of the many obstacles it faced, but President Miller had a comprehensive program and was a determined leader.
From its inception, the Mid-Winter Sports Association has been free of political entanglement. Under the charter drawn by Mr. Miller, attorney-president, it was stipulated that it was to be a “voluntary, non-profit civic organization whose members serve without remuneration.” In practice this means that every Sugar Bowler buys his own tickets to all events.
Further, the charter provided that there shall be no private profits, and any surplus above the required operation expenses or reserve fund must be devoted to “charitable, religious or educational purposes.”
Trophy Selection and First Game
The trophy for the winning team, a genuine antique silver single-bottle wine cooler, was donated to the Association by Waldhorn Company, Inc. The winning team each year is presented a replica of this bowl to retain in its trophy case.
On December 2, 1934, the executive committee went into session at the New Orleans Athletic Club to consider eligible teams, and after long deliberation, invited Tulane University’s Green Wave, unbeaten in the South, and Temple University’s Owls, the only unbeaten team in the North.
The famous Glenn “Pop” Warner was coach at Temple, Ted Cox at Tulane. First announcement of the selection failed to create much enthusiasm, but within 24 hours after fans scanned team records, sentiment changed and the sale of tickets soon exceeded $40,000.
Thus assured of financial success, the Sugar Bowlers breathed easier when the Green Wave and the Owls waged an exciting contest in which Tulane overcame a 14-point deficit to win, 20-14.
Tulane and Temple each received $27,800 from the gate receipts provided by an attendance of 22,026. Admission prices were $1.50 and $3.50.
And the rest they say, is history.