MEDIA RELEASE – In light of health and safety concerns because of Covid-19, Washburn University representatives notified the Kansas Shrine Bowl they would be closing their campus to outside events for the remainder of the summer and would not be able to host the 47th Annual Kansas Shrine Bowl, scheduled for Saturday, July 18th.
“This is a tremendous setback for our event, but we certainly understand the concerns and ultimate decision made by Washburn University leadership,” said B.J. Harris, Executive Director of the Kansas Shrine Bowl. Washburn noted that the university’s residence halls and dining facilities are not scheduled to re-open until fall due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Those facilities would be needed to host the high school players from across the state who compete in the annual game. In addition to the all-star football game, the bowl week also includes the Kansas Masonic All-State Marching Band Camp, Kansas Shrine Bowl All-Star Cheer Camp, Kansas’ largest shrine parade, Sports-In-Kansas High School Football Combine, Strong Legs Run 5K, Jr. All-Star Challenge, golf tournament, appreciation banquet, and more.
“We are disappointed that we will not be able to host the Shrine Bowl football game this year,” said Jerry Farley, Washburn University president. “However, we are proud to be a part of the important work of the network raising money to support Shriners Hospitals for Children.”
The Kansas Shrine Bowl Board of Directors are still hopeful they can find a host location in time for the 2020 event.
“The phased approach to opening is different throughout the state, based on the severity of cases in each region. We’re still hopeful we can find a venue and host city that hasn’t been impacted as greatly and might be closer to being able to accommodate a large event this summer,” said Harris.
“Ad Astra: A Plan to Reopen Kansas” released by the Governor’s office on April 30th, had the “Phase Out” beginning as early as June 15th. In that phase of the plan,“…mass gathering limits are significantly relaxed…” making the execution of the event feasible. That phase could go into effect nearly a month prior to the Kansas Shrine Bowl. Topeka last hosted the Kansas Shrine Bowl in 2013, with one of the largest crowds ever in attendance. The 2020 event in Topeka was set to be another huge success.
“We definitely hope to return to Topeka in the future,” Harris stated.
“There has been so much work already put in by so many wonderful people at Washburn, Visit Topeka, Ramada Inn and more. We hope to reward their efforts by bringing our event to the Capital city soon.”
“Visit Topeka was deeply saddened by the recent news of the 2020 Kansas Shrine Bowl not being hosted at Washburn University as they deal with the repercussions of the COVID-19 crisis.” Said Jessica Schenkel, Vice President of Visit Topeka.
“We feel for all of our community partners who were involved with each facet of the accompanying events and for the families and fans of the 47th Annual Game. We look forward to continuing our partnership with Washburn University and the Kansas Shrine Bowl to bring this event back to Topeka in the future.”
The Kansas Shrine Bowl is scheduled to make its first ever appearance in Hutchinson on June 26th, 2021 and will head back to Pittsburg on July 23rd, 2022.
“Of course, we recognize the battle we have before us, but we owe it to our participants and the patients at Shriners Hospitals for Children, who benefit from our fundraiser, to do what we can to hold an event,” added Harris.
“The Class of 2020 has already endured more than their fair share with this crisis. We are still hopeful we can be a light at the end of the tunnel by hosting our 2020 event.”
The Kansas Shrine Bowl encourages the players and their families, the registered participants, and other stakeholders to follow their social media channels for additional updates as they become available.