LAKELAND, Fla. — The Florida Citrus Commission’s sponsorship of the Citrus Bowl has come to an end after nearly two decades.

The commission, which governs the Lakeland-based Florida Department of Citrus, had been negotiating with the Orlando-based Florida Citrus Sports Association for some months. The association manages the Citrus Bowl in Orlando and was seeking to renew the contract with Florida’s citrus leaders.

But the commission’s offer of $250,000 fell well short of what the association wanted.

“The negotiations have ended,” said Tom Mickle, the association’s executive director. “They made a final offer, which we respectfully rejected (April 16). I anticipate the bowl and the organization will probably change names in the next 30 to 60 days.”

Mickle said the citrus commission’s sponsorship package for the most recent Citrus Bowl matchup between the University of Tennessee and the University of Michigan totaled $657,000. The association, he said, presented five separate sponsorship proposals ranging from $490,000 to $750,000.

“We offered to renew at the exact same figure ($657,000),” Mickle said. “I think it’s interesting that their offer was less than what they paid initially back in 1983, which was $300,000. But we have no hard feelings. They’ve been great partners for 19 years, and we wish them the best. Now we’ve got to move on and try to recover that money that was in last year’s budget.”

Mickle speculated that the commission’s decision to cut back its sponsorship commitment was part of the department’s new business model of doing more with less. It may also have been due to the marketing strategy of targeting women between the ages of 25 and 44, although Mickle pointed out the most recent televised Citrus Bowl reached 3.3 million women in that demographic.

The sponsorship contains numerous provisions, including the name of the bowl, the logo on the field, various sign options, hospitality offers and TV advertising during the bowl parade and the game, Mickle said.

Bruce McEvoy, chief executive officer of Vero Beach, Fla.-based Seald Sweet LLC, said most of his cooperative’s members favored continuing the Citrus Bowl relationship.

“But I think some of us get caught up in the emotions of seeing (the bowl sponsorship) in bold print,” McEvoy said. “I think the reality in Florida is that every penny is being looked at. We were all consulted about this, and I think they tried very hard to reach a compromise. But the decision was based on whether we can get a better return on our investment.”

Harry Falk, a commission member and executive vice president of Winter Garden, Fla.-based Heller Bros. Packing Corp., said staff analyzed the cost and benefit of sponsoring the bowl and came up with the $250,000 figure as a fair value.

“I’m disappointed by it,” Falk said. “But if that’s the decision, that’s the decision. I guess that’s why they make chocolate and vanilla ice cream.”