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Kent State University football fans and Kent residents have a good reason to be excited about Sunday's Godaddy.com Bowl match-up with Arkansas State University: Many of them were not alive the last time the school played in a bowl game.
The Golden Flashes have not taken the field in a bowl since legendary coach Don James guided a talented KSU team that included future NFL Hall of Fame inductee Jack Lambert to the 1972 Tangerine Bowl in Orlando, Fla. The leadoff to the bowl's kickoff at 9 p.m. in Mobile, Ala. has given fans, the university and local businesses a reason to celebrate.
Excitement for the game has been good for business at Kent's Campus Book & Supply, where popular items include t-shirts celebrating the team's Mid-American Conference East championship and GoDaddy.com Bowl appearance.
"(Customers) will get a shirt and then a bumper sticker or something to supplement it," said assistant manager Lindsay Nagy. "It's helped put Kent State's name out there a little more."
In downtown Kent, the staff at the Water Street Tavern expect a packed house to turn out for KSU Alumni Association's official watch party. The doors open at 6 p.m. and drink specials will be available until kickoff.
"We expect it to get fairly busy pretty quickly," said manager Robert Finch. "It will just be a lively game atmosphere."
While some businesses encourage school spirit with T-shirts and drink specials, international manufacturer Ametek, located at the corner of East Erie Street and South Water Street, has been flying flags featuring the Golden Flashes' logo, in place of flags representing the countries where the firm conducts business, since Dec. 19.
Blue and gold ensembles will flash through the country as Kent State University alumni swarm to watch parties hosted by the KSU Alumni Association to cheer on their college alma mater's football team as they play the Red Wolves.
"We're just looking forward to a great bowl game," said Emily Vincent, director of university media relations. "It gives our students, alums and the Kent community an opportunity to gather together and cheer on the Golden Flashes."
The Alumni Association is hosting seven watch parties in Ohio, and out-of-state parties in California, Colorado, Illinois and North Carolina.
"The watch parties are being held in areas where there is a lot of alumni involvement and participation," Vincent said. "So we expect a good turnout at those organized events."
Ohio locations for the GoDaddy.com Bowl watch parties include:
Canton: 8:15 p.m., Jerzee's All American Bar & Grille, 2531 Fulton Road
Dayton: 8 p.m., Buffalo Wild Wings, 2082 Alex Bell Road, West Carrolton
Lakewood: 8 p.m., Around the Corner, 18616 Detroit Ave., Cleveland
Mayfield Heights: 8 p.m., The Boneyard, 5900 Mayfield Road, Cleveland
Middlefield: 8:30 p.m., El Patron Restaurant, 15585 W. High St.
Warrensville Heights: 8 p.m., Buffalo Wild Wings, 26200 Harvard Road
Sunday's game will mark KSU's third appearance in a bowl game, following losses in the Tangerine Bowl and the 1954 Refrigerator Bowl.
"It's been 40 years since Kent State has been in a bowl game," Vincent said. "For our alums, it's been a long time coming."
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