Beginning with this Saturday’s game at Sam Boyd Stadium, the UNLV and Hawai’i football programs will annually take part in the Ninth Island Showdown, the schools announced Tuesday.
Sponsored by The California Hotel the winner of this Mountain West matchup will now get rights to the Island Showdown Trophy, which includes both a pineapple – a Vegas-style gold pineapple – and a variation of the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign. Las Vegas has earned the nickname “The Ninth Island” for its long-standing popularity with Hawai’i visitors and transplants.
“The Cal is proud to provide an official trophy for a nearly 50-year-old rivalry between UNLV and the University of Hawai’i – the ultimate face-off between the Hawaiian Islands and the Ninth Island,” said David Lebby, Vice President/General Manager of The California Hotel. “The Cal and Boyd Gaming have decades-long ties to both UNLV and UH, making our sponsorship of the Island Showdown Trophy a perfect fit for us. We’re looking forward to a great game, and may the best team win!”
UNLV and Hawai’i first squared off in football Oct. 25, 1969, which marked just the second year of existence for the Rebel program. The schools have faced each other 26 times with the Rainbow Warriors leading the all-time series 15-11.
“The Rebels and Rainbow Warriors have been playing memorable games against each other in front of spirited crowds in both Las Vegas and Honolulu for five decades so it is fitting for a trophy to become part of the matchup,” said UNLV Director of Athletics Desiree Reed-Francois. “We thank our partners at The California Hotel for their support and look forward to seeing our fans Saturday at Sam Boyd Stadium.”
UH Director of Athletics David Matlin added: “Hawai’i and Las Vegas have always shared a special connection. The Island Showdown Trophy is a great symbol of that connection and an exciting addition to the UH-UNLV rivalry. Mahalo to The California Hotel for their sponsorship and for their longtime support of both UH and UNLV athletics. We can’t wait for a fantastic atmosphere at Saturday’s game.”
UH also battles for rivalry trophies in the Mountain West against Air Force (Kuter) and Wyoming (Paniolo).