Newport Beach, accustomed to entertaining visitors, lavished luxury on a special clientele this week: Bowl Championship Series football players and their fans.
The coastal city geared up to serve as the home base for the teams participating in Monday's BCS game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena.
The Florida State and Auburn teams, coaches, alumni associations and bands are spread across Newport-Mesa at the Island Hotel, Balboa Bay Resort, Hyatt Regency, Radisson Hotel and Westin South Coast Plaza. The media is housed at the Newport Beach Marriott Hotel & Spa.
"We have been eagerly anticipating their arrival," said Amanda Kliem, a national sales manager who spearheaded the effort for Visit Newport Beach, which works to book group travel to the city. "We literally have rolled out the red carpet for them."
Florida State practiced at Jack R. Hammett Sports Complex in Costa Mesa, while Auburn worked out at UC Irvine. Newport Beach venues planned special events like brunch for the players' families, dinners for coaching staffs, and a traditional Beef Bowl with Lawry's.
Five Crowns in Corona del Mar provided 650 pounds of prime rib per team at separate 300-person private events Thursday and Friday, said Thomas Giulioni, executive director of sales for Newport Dunes Waterfront Resort, which hosted the bowl.
The Corona del Mar High School band was scheduled to perform. Members of the California Highway Patrol and local police forces were also invited to join.
The Coaches' Trophy, a Waterford crystal football atop an ebony base, according to a BCS news release, stood on display Friday afternoon at the Newport Sports Museum.
Other events included a waterfront luncheon via luxury yacht for a VIP group of women, Kliem said.
"That's a very Newport Beach-type experience," she said.
With the teams come the fans, who were pampered with discounts on services such as luxury chauffeurs, spa treatments and private gondola cruises made available through a mobile app.
The app also showed off the city's outdoorsy side — offering promotions for paddle boarding, bike rentals and golf — as well as its affinity for high-end dining, hotels and clothing.
Want a complimentary pair of socks for the big day? Spend $200 at St. Croix Shop. How about $100 off a new sweater? Spend $300 at Halston Heritage. Even the free jewelry travel bag at Roberto Coin had a connection: Make a purchase and mention BCS.
As the game nears, football paraphernalia may be spotted in some Balboa Island shops, and local restaurants may be concocting themed drinks, Kliem said.
"You will see Florida State and Auburn people everywhere you go," she said. "They'll be dining in our restaurants. They'll be wearing their colors. They'll be shopping in our communities."