Wingbowl is a Food Eating event like no other. Where else in the world can you gather close to 20,000 notoriously drunk fans to watch a group of mostly fat men eat chicken wings? Now in its 20s, this extravaganza has grown from a small event to a globally recognized event. The story behind the start of this event is that Al Morganti and Angelo Cataldi of the popular Phildaelphia Sports Radio Station WIP came up with an idea where Philadelphia Eagle Football fans could gather at an event (and maintain interest in WIP) even after. of the NFL Eagles. The soccer team was eliminated from the Superbowl contest.
From its scarce beginnings it has become a full-blown event with all the extravagance of a Carnival. Thousands of fans, floats, entourage and “Wingettes” cheer on the Wing Eaters field. And there are great prizes at stake. The winner receives a new vehicle in addition to other prizes and opportunities for the media. The event has international coverage in the press. It seems that things could not be more optimistic for the future of this event.
I think this year the downward spiral of Wingbowl will begin. This will not be an immediate annihilation of the event, but I truly believe that the interest and success of the event will fade in the future. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons.
There is no question that Wingbowl is an event created for the typical Eagle football fan. Wingbowl, known as a loud and noisy group, provides one last chance for Eagle fans to raise the roof before the end of the season. What must be recognized, however, is that most of Wingbowl’s meteoric rise parallels an unprecedented period of success and rise in popularity for the Eagles franchise. Since the hiring of Andy Reid and the selection of Donovan McNabb at quarterback, the Eagles fan base has grown in numbers and commitment. For most of these years, the Eagles have been in the playoffs and this means that their season has ended only a week or two before the Wingbowl event.
This year is different. Eagle fans have already pulled out of a lousy season. The link between Wingbowl and soccer for the rest of this year is weak. Although the Wingbowl event itself will be considered a success, this year the atmosphere is expected to be a little “different” from previous years.
At the end of the Eagles season, one of two things will happen. Andy Reid will be fired or not. Either way, the prospects for fan interests next year will suffer. If Andy sticks around, the fans will shut down from the start. If he is cut, then expect the Eagles to go through a rebuilding period with a few years lost. Either way, the success of the Eagles and the interest of fans go hand in hand with the success of Wingbowl and the next few years appear to be difficult.
Next year, to make up for waning fan interest, WIP will be forced to market and advertise more to achieve the same level of success as Wingbowl. One way or another, this means spending more money. This may be acceptable for a year, but I doubt that WIP will subsidize the event many years into the future, unless the event shows prospects for continued growth.
Think about it for a minute from a WIP point of view. They had a real winner. But, every good idea has its time. Nothing lasts forever. This year will be a climax that will be difficult to reproduce without spending more money in the future. And no one will want to fund an event only to revert to a previous standard. I may be wrong, I wish Wingbowl a happy 20th birthday. I just don’t expect him to be over 25 years old.