A college football all-star game will be making its home in Tucson.
The game, which was played in Tempe’s Sun Devil Stadium last season under the name of the Eastham Energy College All-Star Game, will now be held at Kino Stadium, according to John Gray of the Arizona Sports Group.
The game will be held Monday, Jan. 16, beginning at 6 p.m.
Gray said he has a three-year deal with Casino del Sol to be the title sponsor and will be moving the group’s offices to Kino Stadium next week. The game will be known as the Casino del Sol College All-Star Game.
“I think we found a home in Tucson, Arizona,” Gray said, citing the efforts of Tucson Padres vice president/general manager Mike Feder and city councilman Paul Cunningham for helping foster the game’s move.
“We look at Tucson as a community that will welcome us and wrap their arms around us like family. In Scottsdale and Tempe, there is so much going on, they don’t stay focused.”
Gray said Nike and the Fiesta Bowl are among those involved as sponsors.
The game drew 6,954 people to Sun Devil Stadium last season.
Gray said his group, which includes former Texas Tech head coach Mike Leach, looked at other locations around the country but wanted to keep an all-star game in the West.
The Senior Bowl, held in Mobile, Ala., is the biggest of these events. The East-West Shrine Game will be held in St. Petersburg, Fla., in January. The Texas vs. The Nation game is held in San Antonio.
The Casino del Sol College All-Star Game will feature mid- to late-round prospects, as well as those who will go undrafted.
“A lot of people say, ‘Is there a need for more all-star games?’” Gray said.
“Yes, there is. You could make a heck of a team in the NFL from guys who weren’t drafted. Miles Austin, Tony Romo, Arian Foster. I could go on and on.”
Players will showcase their skills in front of scouts for several days before the game, with practices open to the public. Gray said 86 pro scouts attended last season’s game, evaluating 90 players. Gray said 85 of those players went to NFL camps this fall, and 18 are in the league.
Arizona running back Nic Grigsby played in the event last season. The undrafted free agent went to camp with Miami and was signed to the Dolphins’ practice squad before being cut. Oakland signed Grigsby to its practice squad before releasing him Tuesday.
There will be a news conference Nov. 2 at Casino del Sol, featuring Leach, as organizers will talk more about the Tucson’s new sporting event. A website — CasinodelSolAllStarGame.com — should be live at that time.