FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- The grand old game now known as the Orange Bowl has taken on the look of an aging theater: More glamour in the yellowed photos in the lobby from past shows than in the names lately gracing the marquee.
Even fans of Clemson and West Virginia aren't rushing to see the match-up the Orange Bowl will serve Wednesday night at Sun Life Stadium. Both schools are coming up well short of selling out their allotments of 17,500 tickets.
The BCS era has stripped much of the luster from the traditional bowls. While there was an element of monotony when the Orange Bowl's former tie to the Big Eight/Big 12 brought Nebraska or Oklahoma year after year, the game usually carried national significance. It produced the national champion five times during the 1990s, and 14 overall.
That can no longer happen with the title decided by the BCS National Championship Game that follows the major bowls and revolves among the four BCS sites: The 2013 game will be at Sun Life Stadium.
"There's no doubt about it that nobody gives 2 cents about any of the bowls except whose playing for the national championship," said former FSU coach Bobby Bowden, who took the Seminoles to eight Orange Bowl games.
"The Rose, Sugar, Cotton and Orange (bowls) were the big four. It was really an accomplishment to get into any one of them. It doesn't have the same meaning. There's so many bowls now, gosh, everybody gets a bowl bid."
Fans in South Florida might prefer to watch replays of Miami's 1984 upset thriller over Nebraska or Charlie Ward leading Florida State to its first national title in 1994.
"We had some great games down there. It was just a great atmosphere," Bowden said.
The Orange Bowl, with a history as storied as any of the premier games, has been locked since 2007 into taking the champion from the Atlantic Coast Conference. That deal, which runs two more years, might have been beneficial had FSU and Miami not slipped to ACC also-rans.
Since then attendance and television ratings have sagged, and FedEx ended its long-time sponsorship, replaced by Discover.
"I think it's changed because of the changes in the BCS and all that," Miami historian and Orange Bowl Committee member Arva Moore Parks said. "It's still a viable thing, and it still brings tourists to Miami and shows off South Florida. That was its original motive. That's the one thing that hasn't changed."
Much has changed with the game and associated festival events that date to 1933 when it was conceived to boost the South Florida economy during the Depression. The Orange Bowl hasn't felt quite like the Orange Bowl since leaving its namesake downtown home for the suburbs in 1996 (it returned for a curtain call in '99).
The King Orange Jamboree Parade, a New Year's Eve staple for 65 years, was dropped in 2002 because it was losing $200,000 a year and network television no longer wanted to show it. The Orange Bowl Marathon died for want of financial support.
The Orange Bowl International Tennis Championships remains one of the premier junior tennis events in the world, but this year it was held for the first time in Broward County.
"It was much more of a local thing, very much a Miami event. It's spread a little more regionally, which I don't think is all bad," said Parks, who chaired the parade for three years. "I do miss the parade. I think it's still an exciting time. The (committee) members are very selfless. They really give up a lot of time in the holiday season to entertain the people from out of town. That spirit is still there."
The teams still get first-class treatment from the time from the time they step off the plane onto the orange carpet. They get entertained and dined and stay in luxury accommodations -- Clemson at the Westin Diplomat, West Virginia at the Fontainbleu.
"The exposure in South Florida is big. Obviously this is a big recruiting base for us," West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen said. "The overall aspect of being in a BCS game in the Orange Bowl, which dates back to 1935 and has a tremendous amount of exposure on national TV and with as many good games as they've had through the last 80-some years, that stuff can only help."
The game has the potential to be entertaining with both teams featuring high-octane offenses. There is local interest with 20 players from Florida on West Virginia's roster, including quarterback Geno Smith, a Miramar High product.
But both schools expect to lose money for the privilege. West Virginia officials say they could be left with a deficit up to $1 million due to difficulty selling the premium-priced tickets that teams are responsible for. Better seats often can be found for less from secondary sellers such as StubHub.