NEW YORK - Snow flurries weren't enough to dampen any spirits about two hours before kickoff of the 2012 Pinstripe Bowl.
Instead, Yankees president Randy Levine forecasted "our most successful Pinstripe Bowl ever."
As Syracuse and West Virginia prepared to play one another in the third annual game, Levine pointed to the schools as critical components of the Bowl's success.
"Two first-class, great universities who live up to their name," he said.
Levine said that, as of approximately 1:30 p.m., the bowl had sold 41,450 seats. Yankee Stadium has a capacity of 42,000 for college football games. Tickets have been purchased by fans of both schools, Yankees fans and New Yorkers, Levine said.
"This game is catching on with the local community," he said.
Levine also estimated that the game has had an impact of at least $25-30 million on New York City.
"This is by far the most successful Pinstripe Bowl there is," he said. "We've hit all of our benchmarks for this game. It's time to kick it off."
The week leading up to the game also left an impression on the schools' athletic directors, West Virginia's Oliver Luck and Syracuse's Dr. Daryl Gross.
"They have treated us absolutely like kings," Luck said of the Yankees' hospitality. "It has been a spectacular week for our student-athletes and coaches."
The week included visits to the 9/11 Memorial, a trip to Radio City Music Hall and the opportunity to ring the bell at the New York Stock Exchange, which Luck called a "once-in-a-lifetime chance."
Gross echoed those sentiments.
"It's been an unbelievable week for us," he said. "I really want to thank the Steinbrenner family."
The Steinbrenner family's impact on the Pinstripe Bowl's legacy was well-noted prior to kickoff. Former Yankees owner George Steinbrenner was a big college football fan, having played and coached the game, and he was instrumental in bringing the sport to the new Yankee Stadium.
"We're playing this game because of the Boss," Levine said. "When we built the new stadium, he insisted that college football be a big part of it."
The Yankees' president also said Steinbrenner was a big fan of Ohio State, and he would occasionally show his Buckeyes national championship ring to Michigan native Derek Jeter. "He just loved college football," Levine said. "When we designed this stadium...he would say over and over again, 'How's it going to look for college football? I want to play college football there when there's no baseball.'"
The Boss' dream has been realized as the Pinstripe Bowl enters its third year, with Levine lauding its success - success that couldn't be trumped by a snow-covered Stadium field.
Levine did note that the weather had delayed Hal Steinbrenner's flight. Luck said he hoped to be able to get to Indianapolis on Sunday to see his son Andrew, the quarterback of the Colts, play the Houston Texans.
And it also provided a little bit of comedic material.
"The way we hit the last week, maybe a little snow would have helped the Yankees also," Levine said.