By comparison, this year’s Citizens Bank Bowl ranks up with the NCAA Division II National Championship game.

By comparison, this year’s Citizens Bank Bowl ranks up with the NCAA Division II National Championship game.

Just judging by attendance figures, the D-II national title game in Florence, Ala. drew 4,027 fans to the game that featured Minnesota-Duluth against Delta (Miss.) State — a team just over four hours from Florence.

On the other hand, the Citizens Bank Bowl — which was sanctioned by the NJCAA for the second straight year as the NJCAA National Championship — had just 20 fewer fans at Pittsburg State’s Carnie Smith Stadium in a game that pitted Butler (Kan.) Community College against Navarro (Texas) College.

Not bad when you consider that the Citizens Bank Bowl has only been in existence for two years.

“I’d chalk it up to the partnership of the City of Pittsburg, Pitt State, Citizens Bank and the Crawford County CVB,” said J.D. Ettore, Fort Scott Community College athletic director and member of the Citizens Bank Bowl committee. “We wanted to create a premiere bowl game and the facilities at Pitt State rival just about every DII facility and some D1s.”

In looking at other bowl games, the Citizens Bank Bowl also fared well against bowl games in Kansas. The Kanza Bowl in Topeka drew 3,500 fans to watch host Washburn and Midwestern State. The Mineral Water Bowl in Excelsior Springs, Mo. drew 2,256 to watch Pitt State and Concordia (Minn.) State and the Central Bank Salt City Bowl had 2,100 fans in Hutchinson to watch host Hutch take on Eastern Arizona.

Also not bad, considering that Florence, Ala. beat out Pittsburg two years ago for the contract for the D-II national title game, a game that will remain in Florence until 2013.

The recent figures could provide a leg-up for Pittsburg and Pitt State if they choose to go after the D-II title game again when the bidding process for the 2014 and 2015 games start in 2012.

“I think what it does, it allows the NCAA to do some comparison and contrast,” said Craig Hull, director of the Crawford County Convention and Visitors Bureau. “When we lost the bid before, they told us that it was the proven over the potential and I’m starting to see some chipping away at that.”

The 2010 attendance for the Citizens Bank Bowl was less than in 2009. That year, the bowl game drew 5,423 fans, but you have to factor in that one of the teams playing was Fort Scott (Kan.) Community College, a team based just 30 minutes away.

The remaining three bowl games compared did see increases in attendance from 2009. The average increase from the Salt City Bowl, Mineral Water Bowl and Kanza Bowl was around 400 fans.

The bottom line, according to Ettore, is that the Citizens Bank Bowl is continuing to improve as it enters its final year of a 3-year agreement with the NJCAA to host a bowl game.

“The bowl committee really goes out of its way to find ways to make it better and improve on things,” Ettore said. “When teams come here, we want them to have a great experience and also we want them to want to come back to Pittsburg, and I think we’ve accomplished that.”

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