Fiesta Bowl generates $2.75 billion in economic impact over 12 years

As universities across the country prepare their college football teams for the upcoming season, the Fiesta Bowl – one of Arizona’s biggest annual sporting events — shared updated data revealing its financial impact on Arizona’s economy and nonprofit sector.

During the 2019 Fiesta Bowl Kickoff Luncheon, held on August 20 at the Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa, Fiesta Bowl representatives revealed the bowl games and associated events have generated approximately $2.75 billion in economic impact in Arizona during the last twelve years. 

“We’re very proud of this,” said Patrick Barkley, Fiesta Bowl Chairman of the Board. “150 committee members and thirty board members are dedicated to making Arizona a better place to live.”

The Fiesta Bowl says it annually attracts an average of over 60,000 visitors to Arizona, which equates to a total of more than two million out-of-state visitors over the last 48 years. In addition to the Cheez-It Bowl and Fiesta Bowl, the organization also hosts numerous other events throughout the college football season, including events geared towards youth and charity fundraisers. 

“Our mission is to provide grants to charities throughout the state of Arizona that fit into our three pillars of giving: youth, sports, and education,” Barkley said. 

Representatives from Arizona nonprofits that benefited from donations by Fiesta Bowl Charities share their stories during the 2019 Fiesta Bowl Kickoff Luncheon. (Photo by Nick Serpa, Chamber Business News)

For the 2019-2020 season, Fiesta Bowl Charities says it’s contributing over $3 million to over forty Arizona nonprofits. That’s a new record for charitable giving “by any college football bowl organization,” the Fiesta Bowl said. 

The organization also says it has donated over $10 million dollars to local organizations within the last four years.

One way in which the Fiesta Bowl gives back to the community is through its Wishes for Teachers program, which last year distributed a total of $1 million to 200 teachers across Arizona to help “fulfill their classroom wish.”

“Because of Fiesta Bowl Charities, over 150 dance students were able to receive real dance costumes and experience the full performing arts experience,” said Heidi Wright, Director of Dance at Camelback High School, and a recipient of last year’s Wishes for Teachers grant. “Such experiences are so important for underprivileged youth, give us as educators the opportunity to create hope and passion, and instill in our students a desire to achieve more.”

The Fiesta Bowl also announced recently that it will donate $2 million to the Hance Park Revitalization project, which will allow for the construction of a new playground area in the downtown Phoenix park.

During this year’s Fiesta Bowl Kickoff Luncheon, attendees had the opportunity to hear from championship-winning college football coach Urban Meyer, who previously helped lead Utah, Florida and Ohio State to Bowl game wins.

Coach Urban Meyer, left, answers questions about his career during a panel at the 2019 Fiesta Bowl Kickoff Luncheon. (Photo by Nick Serpa, Chamber Business News)

“We love this place,” Meyer said of Arizona. “So when we got invited to come speak, it was just a matter of seconds… I said ‘absolutely, I’d love to come back.’”

Mike Nealy, Fiesta Bowl Executive Director, said the organization couldn’t make the sort of impact that it does without its over three thousand volunteers.

“We’re very proud to do many great events, but none would be possible without our volunteer base,” he said. “It’s with those volunteers and the events that we do that allow us to give back to the community.”

Nick Serpa

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