The 1964 Liberty Bowl was the first major college footballbowl game ever played indoors, the first broadcast nationwide in the United States and the only one ever played in Atlantic City, New Jersey, United States. It was played indoors at a temperature of 60°F on December 19, 1964 in front of a crowd of 6,059 at the Atlantic City Convention Hall (now known as Boardwalk Hall) which had already hosted events including the Boardwalk Bowl, Miss America Pageant, the 1964 Democratic National Convention that nominated Lyndon B. Johnson for President and one of The Beatles' largest concerts in their first American tour.
The venue had been shifted to Atlantic City after the bowl was played for its initial five years outdoors in Philadelphia Stadium, often in temperatures below freezing. The inaugural Liberty Bowl in 1959 saw Penn State beat Alabama by a score of 7-0 in front of 38,000 fans. But it was downhill from there, and fewer than 10,000 were in attendance to watch the 1963 game between Mississippi State University and North Carolina State, with the organizers taking a loss of $40,000. The frigid temperatures at year's end in the Northeast led to the game being called the "Deep Freeze Bowl". Bud Dudley, organizer of the Liberty Bowl, was ready for a change and he was receptive to an offer from a group of Atlantic City businessmen who were trying to help revive the fading Jersey Shore resort that included a $25,000 guarantee.
The 1964 playing of the Liberty Bowl was the first major bowl game ever played indoors.Artificial turf was not in use yet, and the playing surface was a 4-inch-thick (100 mm) grass surface with two inches of burlap underneath it on top of cement. Artificial lights were installed and kept running all day long to keep the grass growing. The organizers spent $16,000 on all of the field preparations for the game. To squeeze the game onto the floor of the convention hall, the end zones at each side of the field were shortened to eight yards in depth from the regulation 10.
In the 1964 postseason, the Liberty Bowl was one of just eight major bowl games. The American Broadcasting Company agreed to broadcast the game nationally, and brought Paul Christman, Curt Gowdy and Jim McKay to announce the game, paying $95,000 for the rights to broadcast the first nationwide telecast of an indoor football game.
The Utah Utes (8–2) faced the West Virginia Mountaineers. WVU's (7–3) regular season record included a 28–27 upset over the Sugar Bowl-bound Syracuse Orangemen in their final regular game of the season. West Virginia featured running back Dick Leftridge and Utah's offense featured All-American Roy Jefferson. Utah used their speed, and dominated West Virginia from start to finish and won 32–6. Utah Halfback Ron Coleman gained 154 yards on 15 carries, scoring a touchdown on a 53-yard run.
The 1964 Liberty Bowl would be the last played in the Northeastern United States; the game was moved to Memphis, Tennessee in 1965 and has continued to play in Memphis since then.
↑ 2.02.1Staff. "Who Won", Time (magazine), December 25, 1964. Accessed September 4, 2008. "At the Atlantic City Convention Hall, site of last August's Democratic National Convention, Utah trounced West Virginia 32–6 in the Liberty Bowl—first indoor bowl game ever. The temperature was a pleasantly cool 60°, and Utah Halfback Ron Coleman was red-hot: he gained 154 yds. on 15 carries, including a 53-yd. touchdown burst."
↑Kragthorpe, Kurt. "Liberty has come a long way since '64", The Salt Lake Tribune, December 21, 2003. Accessed September 4, 2008. "This was 1964, when only four college football bowl games were staged — outside of the four traditional New Year's Day games."