The released comparison of bowl game attendance can, perhaps, be a bit of motivation for city and Pittsburg State officials.

The released comparison of bowl game attendance can, perhaps, be a bit of motivation for city and Pittsburg State officials.

Especially, if either has any plans to bid for the NCAA Division II National Championship games in 2014 and 2015, after the contract for the game expires in its present location — Florence, Ala.

In July 2009, the NCAA decided to keep its D-II title game at North Alabama’s Braly Stadium and recently granted a two-year extension through 2013.

But now, Pittsburg can use attendance numbers from the Citizens Bank Bowl — which has been sanctioned as the NJCAA national title game in both years of the bowl’s existence — as well as other games such as the Kansas Shrine Bowl, the annual Kansas high school all-star football game.

In 2010, the Citizens Bank Bowl drew 4,007 fans to Carnie Smith Stadium to watch No. 1 Butler (Kan.) Community College and No. 2 Navarro (Texas) College. However, the D-II National Championship drew just 20 more fans a few weeks later, even with a team no more than 250 miles from Florence competing.

Those figures may help bolster a potential bid for Pittsburg if it considers bidding on the game it lost out on just a year ago.

“It certainly won’t hurt anything,” said Pitt State Athletic Director Jim Johnson. “That data wasn’t in the last bid package, and it really won’t hurt to put in the attendance for things like our own home games and things like the Shrine Bowl.”

The first Shrine Bowl at Pitt State, in 2002, drew an attendance of over 8,000. There was a dip for the next game in 2006 where just 6,600 fans attended. But, Crawford County Convention and Visitors Bureau Director Craig Hull said that there were mitigating factors such as a suspension of the comp ticket rule and the summer of 2006 featured gas priced at around $3 per gallon.

Now may be a good time for the City of Pittsburg, Pitt State, and the Convention and Visitors Bureau to consider pursuing a bid for the D-II National Championship, considering that the NCAA has already elected to move its D-II men’s basketball tournament from Springfield, Mass. to Northern Kentucky University, beginning in 2012.

“The main reason for that was because of the centralized location,” Johnson, who is also a member of the D-II men’s basketball committee, said. “Part of the bid was selling the fact that 60 percent of the population in the U.S. lives within six hours of Cincinnati.”

With regards to the Citizens Bank Bowl, bowl committee member and Fort Scott Community College AD J.D. Ettore said that the name of the game is continued improvement. The Citizens Bank Bowl has just one more year in its contract with the NJCAA to be a junior college bowl game.

“Football fans are football fans and you have great ones in southeast Kansas,” Ettore said. “We just want to further showcase this and keep it growing.”

The main question now is whether Pittsburg or Pitt State is even interested in bidding for the 2014 and 2015 D-II National Championship.

“As the CVB, if the city and Pitt State is interested in pursuing it, we would be on-board with that,” Hull said.

Matthew Clark can be reached at matthew.clark@morningsun.net or at 620-231-2600, Ext. 140