The Fiesta Bowl Started With an Idea
Former Arizona State University President G. Homer Durham pitched the concept of a Phoenix-area football bowl game in 1968. Now, more than 40 years later, the Fiesta Bowl has hosted seven national championship games and has become an integral part of college football’s postseason. “It is very apparent to me why the Fiesta Bowl continues to be the most sought-after bowl game in college football,” said Boise State head football coach Chris Petersen, who has led his team to a pair of Fiesta Bowl victories. “Its first-rate reputation is well deserved.”
Every Fiesta Bowl is a celebration for Valley sports enthusiasts. But the Bowl’s impact on Arizona lasts all year long and is felt well beyond the gridiron. In the 2010-11 bowl season, the Fiesta Bowl, Cactus Bowl and Tostitos BCS National Championship Game created $354 million in economic impact, according to a study by ASU’s W.P. Carey School of Business. The study estimated that the Fiesta Bowl organization has produced $1 billion in economic impact in a five-year span.
The Fiesta Bowl Wasn’t Always This Big
It all started with President Durham’s idea. The Arizona Republic sports editor Verne Boatner wrote a column supporting the concept, and several Valley of the Sun business leaders banded together to bring a bowl game to Phoenix. Prominent Valley sports enthusiasts Bill Shover of The Arizona Republic/Phoenix Gazette and Glenn Hawkins called a meeting of the area's top community leaders. "There was a lot of interest," Boatner said at the time. "A lot more than I thought there would be. I didn't believe that so many influential people could be brought together in one place." Jack Stewart, who was one of the driving forces for bringing the game to Phoenix, was elected to head the effort. He and the current original members of the Executive Committee -- Hawkins, George Isbell, Jim Meyer, Donald D. Meyers, Karl Eller, Bill Shover and George Taylor, later to be joined by Don Dupont – drew up the plan that would earn NCAA approval for the game. One year after an initial rejection, the NCAA Council approved a bowl game in Arizona on April 26, 1971. A magical franchise was born.