DETROIT - It's official: the Lions and the Big Ten are partnering to bring a new college football bowl to Ford Field.
The team announced the new game Wednesday. It will replace the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl starting in 2014, once the contract with that bowl runs out after 2013.
VIDEO: Click on the player above - Tom Lewand talks with Brad Galli via Skype about the new game.
The inaugural game will take place December 30, 2014. The hope is with a date later on the calendar, the game will attract a more attractive television partner and deal.
"It's really exciting because it's a new chapter for Ford Field, a new chapter for the city to be able to partner with a great institution like the Big Ten conference and to raise the profile of the bowl game," Lewand said.
"To start new with a brand new bowl game is really exciting for us."
A name for the bowl game will be determined after sponsorship agreements are in place. Lewand said the team is in talks with several partners, and said local ties have always played a factor in the past.
The Lions are eager to host a bowl game featuring a Big Ten team because ultimately, they would like Ford Field to be considered as a possible host of the Big Ten Championship Game and even the new College Football Playoff Championship.
"It's just a start. It's where we can build from here is important as anything," Lewand said.
"It's a little bit of a walk before you run principle. I think the important thing is that we've got this thing done. We can build the relationship with the Big Ten. We can grow this game, which in it of itself is great for the city. But then beyond that, put ourselves and our city in the conversation for the NCAA college playoffs and other types of events like that, that are happening in college football."
If the team and city impresses Big Ten officials, the belief is Detroit will be more likely to host one of the more marquee postseason games.
The Lions will join the Houston Texans as the only other NFL team to operate a college football bowl game.
Brad Galli is a Sports Reporter at WXYZ Detroit. Follow Brad on Twitter @BradGalli