College football bowl games started last week, which means the Fiesta, Cheez-It, and Arizona Bowl games are not too far away. With the approach of these games brings increased fandom and tourism to the state.
The 2018 Cheez-It Bowl (formerly known as the Cactus Bowl) will take place on December 26th at Chase Field, where the California Golden Bears will face the Texas Christian University (TCU) Horned Frogs. Then, the Arizona Bowl will be at Arizona Stadium in Tucson on the 29th, where Nevada and Colorado State will play. Then, on New Year’s Day, the LSU Tigers will take on the undefeated UCF Knights at State Farm Stadium in the 2019 PlayStation Fiesta Bowl.
The popularity of the two bowl games is expected to draw in tourists from across the country and simultaneously help spur economic growth. Fiesta Bowl executive director Mike Nealy notes they anticipate having 50 to 60,000 attendees, and the Cheez-It bowl has 30,000 ticket-owners so far. In fact, he expects these numbers to grow, as the competing teams just started selling tickets to their local fan bases.
“Over the past dozen years, the economic impact has been close to $2.75 billion in impact. That’s roughly $150-200 million per year depending on the tenants and their spending habits,” Nealy continues. “I think we get forgotten sometimes as a value. We are very fortunate to host major games like the Final Four and stuff like that, but every year, we get to host this really big event in the Fiesta Bowl, so we’re an annual contributor.”
Additionally, the bowls offer events for visitors who want to experience more than the game. On December 29th, the Fiesta Bowl has its annual parade, which is the largest single-day event in the state annually – 100,000 people line the streets, according to Nealy. Additionally, both bowls have pregame parties before the respective games.
Because of these events and the overall hospitality offerings, Nealy describes Arizona as the perfect venue for college football. “The city and state are so accommodating and [Arizona] is essentially resort-land. The biking, the hiking, the art, we have to offer a lot of things for people to do,” Nealy states. “We also have the Grand Canyon, Sedona, and so much else to offer. This is the first time LSU has been here, so this creates new opportunities for these fans who have maybe never seen the desert.”
In addition to the Fiesta and Cheez-It Bowls, Arizona features another bowl down south with the Nova Arizona Bowl. Similar to the other bowls, the Arizona Bowl will also have its own family-friendly tailgate party with food, drinks, and music. Plus, Nova is donating all proceeds of the game and surrounding events to local charities, so participating provides a pristine partnership between the population and its community.
With family-friendly entertainment, football, and statewide excursions, Arizona is the perfect place to host three of the most popular bowl games in college football.