Festival of College Football Creates $354 million For Arizona Economy


Monday, July 25, 2011
CONTACT: Andy Bagnat, 480-350-0909

Tostitos BCS National Championship Game, Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl set impact records

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – The Fiesta Bowl Festival of College Football delivered an overall economic impact of $354.6 million in the 2010-11 bowl season – and it has generated more than $1 billion for the Arizona economy over the last five years, according to an Arizona State University study released today.

Two of the organization’s three bowl games set records last season: the Tostitos BCS National Championship Game between Auburn and Oregon produced $188 million in impact and the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl between Missouri and Iowa generated $84.6 million, the study found.

The survey was commissioned by the Fiesta Bowl and conducted by the ASU W.P. Carey Center for Competitiveness and Prosperity Research and the ASU W.P. Carey Marketing Department. Faculty and student researchers interviewed 915 out-of-state visitors about spending related to the Tostitos BCS National Championship Game, Tostitos Fiesta Bowl and Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, as well as other events sponsored by the Fiesta Bowl organization.

“Even in one of the most difficult economies in Arizona history, the Fiesta Bowl and its events continue to generate enormous impact,” said Dr. Michael Mokwa, who led the research team. “The numbers tell the story of a vital economic engine – and the numbers don’t tell the whole story.”

The bulk of the impact recorded during the most recent bowl season -- $320.2 million – was attributed to spending by out-of-state visitors. This infusion of money came at a critical time for the state’s struggling tourism industry.

 “This study reaffirms the importance of widespread community support for the Festival of College Football,” said Duane Woods, Fiesta Bowl Chairman of the Board. “It starts with the efforts of our 2,900 volunteers and the support of our partners. We’re proud to showcase Arizona as a destination for national events.”

The Tostitos BCS National Championship Game drew the biggest attendance in the history of University of Phoenix Stadium, and 78 percent of the crowd of 78,603 were visitors, the survey showed. The Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl set a record with 53,453 fans, 60 percent of whom were visitors. Out-of-staters also made up 42 percent of the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl crowd of 67,232.

The average visitor to each game spent more than three nights in the Valley, the survey determined.

“The three games staged by the Fiesta Bowl, including the thousands of fans, alumni and media that descended upon the Scottsdale area, provided a much-needed boost as our local economy and tourism industry were working to get back on track,” said Rachel Sacco, president and CEO of the Scottsdale Convention & Visitors Bureau. “The games and surrounding events filled room nights that would otherwise go empty and helped bring positive national attention to the Valley.”  

The study found that the three bowl games also:

  • Generated an additional $33.1 million in organizational spending.
  • Created the equivalent of 3,243 full-time jobs.
  • Provided a total of $12.68 million in additional sales tax revenue.

The report details the 2010-11 bowl season and related events. But it represents only a fraction of the economic impact generated by the Fiesta Bowl organization since the inception of the stand-alone BCS national championship game in 2007.

In the last five years, the Fiesta Bowl and its related events have generated more than $1 billion in economic impact. That figure combines ASU studies of two “triple-host” seasons and conservative estimates of the three double-host years in between them.

The researchers concluded that the Festival of College Football contributes to the “vibrancy of life and pride in Arizona and the Valley. This is especially true when one considers that events associated with the Fiesta Bowl occur throughout each calendar year. These events have the power to increase civic pride and a level of camaraderie.

“Further, as much as the contests and games have the inherent nature of competition, they also serve to unite regions and the nation in the celebration of sport – this is unquestionably true of the Fiesta Bowl, Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl and the BCS National Championship,” the researchers wrote.

Beyond the numbers: Arizona in the spotlight

Economic impact reports provide plenty of data about the value of hosting major college bowl games and related events. But they don’t tell the whole story. Here are some notes related to the 2010-11 Fiesta Bowl Festival of College Football:

  • Party time: In the week leading up to the Tostitos BCS National Championship Game, tens of thousands of fans flooded Old Town Scottsdale to participate in the Bud Light Fiesta, which offered food, beverages, musical entertainment and interactive games on a 3.5-acre site south of Scottsdale Fashion Square. The event drew numerous out-of-state television crews as well as a reporter from the Jay Leno Show, which broadcast a 5-minute segment on Monday, Jan. 10. "Many in Scottsdale are saying it was one of the best events ever staged in the city, which is high praise considering the world-class events held here annually," said Brent DeRaad, executive vice president of the Scottsdale Convention & Visitors Bureau.
  • All aboard: The Grand Canyon Railway reported that about 1,000 adults and students participating in the Fiesta Bowl Band Championship rode the train during the holidays. Visiting Auburn fans also were a heavy presence. "Our train was loaded with Auburn people, and we don't do any real marketing down there at that time," said Bruce Brossman, director of reservation sales. "That's just purely anecdotal. But there were estimated to be hundreds of Auburn fans up here."
  • Hotels benefit: Fans who attended the Tostitos BCS National Championship Game turned Phoenix into the nation's top hotel market, providing a big boost to a hard-hit local business sector, The Arizona Republic reported. Hotel occupancy in the metropolitan area rose 29.2 percent from the year earlier in the weeklong period before and after the game, according to Smith Travel Research. The 250- room Radisson Fort McDowell Resort filled half of its rooms with bowl fans, General Manager Greg Carrish told The Republic. "If they were not here, we would not have done as well as we did from that Saturday through Tuesday,” he said.
  • Did you see…: As part of a promotion before the BCS title game, a Nike swoosh was part of a laser light show on the side of Camelback Mountain.  Beyond all those who witnessed it, a YouTube video of the Camelback Mountain promotion has had more than 25,000 views.
  • National exposure: ESPN’s popular “College GameDay” broadcast daily from Old Town Scottsdale from Jan. 3-7, then moved its base to Glendale before the Tostitos BCS National Championship Game. The Auburn-Oregon title showdown was the most-watched program in cable TV history, with an audience of 27.3 million people. Meanwhile, the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl between Missouri and Iowa drew a 2.24 rating on ESPN, up 460 percent from the 2009 game. While it did not quantify the value of media exposure, the W.P. Carey report said TV, radio and print coverage of the Festival of College Football has “the potential to enhance the reputation of our region as both a commercial center and a potential travel destination.”


Click here to read full economic impact report.