Posted: Oct 18, 2012 9:37 AM
ST. LOUIS -- University of Illinois and University of Missouri athletics officials, together with representatives of Anheuser-Busch and Scottrade Center, announced on Thursday the Bud Light Braggin' Rights Game will remain at Scottrade Center in St. Louis until at least 2017.
The announcement was made on Thursday morning at the Scottrade Center in downtown St. Louis.
"Scottrade Center has been the proud home of the annual Braggin' Rights game since the building opened in 1994," said Tom Stillman, Chairman of the St. Louis Blues and Scottrade Center. "We are thrilled that this St. Louis tradition will continue through 2017."
The nation's premier non-conference basketball rivalry, the Bud Light Braggin' Rights Game began play in St. Louis on December 10, 1980, and has been played 31 times over the last 32 years, including this season's meeting on December 22, 2012, at 5 p.m. on ESPN2.
"The Bud Light Braggin' Rights Game has become a holiday tradition for both Mizzou and Illinois fans and this announcement is a shining example of two athletics departments working to keep tradition alive despite the changing landscape of scheduling in college basketball," Missouri Director of Athletics Mike Alden said. "I want to thank our friends with Anheuser-Busch, State Farm and Scottrade Center for being a major part of this great rivalry and I want to thank the city of St. Louis for being such a great host for the country's top non-conference rivalry game."
Illinois holds a 20-11 series advantage in St. Louis and an 11-10 lead in games over the last 21 years. Missouri has won the last three meetings following up a nine-game winning streak by Illinois from 2000-08.
"We are pleased to extend the contract ensuring that the Bud Light Braggin' Rights game will remain a fixture in St. Louis for years to come," Illinois Director of Athletics Mike Thomas said. "The University of Illinois enjoys a longstanding, spirited rivalry with the University of Missouri, and this game has grown in popularity over the past 31 years to become one of the premier events of the college basketball season. We would like to thank Anheuser-Busch, Scottrade Center and State Farm for their tremendous support and continued investment in this series."
Anheuser-Busch has renewed its title sponsorship with the game and State Farm Insurance will continue as the game's presenting sponsor.
"This is one of the most anticipated non-conference games in all of college basketball, and Anheuser-Busch is proud to remain the title sponsor of this holiday classic, as we have been for more than 30 years," said Blaise D'Sylva, vice president of media, sports and entertainment marketing at Anheuser-Busch. "The Bud Light Braggin' Rights Game is a major part of our sports fabric here in St. Louis, and this sponsorship is another avenue for Anheuser-Busch to support the academic and athletic missions taking place on campus at Missouri and Illinois."
Overall, five games in the Braggin' Rights series have gone into overtime, and 14 games have been decided by two possessions or fewer.
"There is nothing like this game in all of college basketball," Mizzou Head Coach Frank Haith said. "The fan bases are split down the middle and the enthusiasm is second to none. You add in a national television audience and the excitement of the holiday season and you get the best rivalry game of the non-league season."
Haith coached in his first Braggin' Rights Game in 2011 and led the Tigers to a 78-74 victory. Illinois' John Groce will get his first opportunity in 2012 after an impressive run at Ohio University where he led the Bobcats to a pair of NCAA Tournaments including the 2012 Sweet 16.
"I've heard about the importance of the Illinois-Missouri game since the day I took the job here at the University of Illinois," Fighting Illini Head Coach John Groce said. "This is one of college basketball's best non-conference rivalry games. When you factor in the longevity of the series, holding it at a neutral site in St. Louis with the crowd split 50-50, and playing it right before the holidays; you are talking about a big-time environment for our players, alumni and fans. I'm excited about experiencing this rivalry for the first time, and that we are extending the contract so the Braggin' Rights game will continue for many years."
Practice is underway for both Illinois and Missouri. The Fighting Illini open regular season play on November 9 vs. Colgate. Missouri opens its schedule on November 10 vs. Southern Illinois Edwardsville. Both clubs have exciting tournaments in late November with Illinois competing in the Maui Invitational (November 19-21), while Missouri travels to Nassau, Bahamas, for the Battle 4 Atlantis event (November 22-24).
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