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Fiesta Bowl Is More Than Battle for No. 1

Associated Press

The Fiesta Bowl showdown between top-ranked Notre Dame and No. 3 West Virginia is expected to generate up to $75 million in revenue for the Phoenix area.

Bruce Skinner, the game’s executive director, said a typical Fiesta Bowl generates about $25 million while a game with national championship implications can produce an additional $50 million.

Maggie Wilson, a spokeswoman for the Arizona Office of Tourism, said office employees had that in mind as they watched Notre Dame complete its season with a 27-10 win over Southern Cal.

“Every single one of us was glued to that game,” she said. “It means the difference between No. 1 and No. 2, and that’s a big deal. It makes the Fiesta Bowl the Super Bowl of college football.”

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The Jan. 2 game will be the second national championship contest in three years for the 17-year-old Fiesta bowl. Penn State defeated Miami 14-10 for the national title in 1987.

“We know that it’s big,” said Bill Peterson, a spokesman for the city of Tempe, where the football game is played. “It’s much bigger than it was when it started out. We didn’t have the first-class hotels then that we do now, and they’re all full.”

Officials at Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix said a total of 46 charter flights were expected this week for the Fiesta Bowl. American Trans Air, based in Indianapolis, planned 25 charter flights.

“This may be the largest movement to any one bowl,” said Mark Hutchinson, the airline’s manager of charter sales. “We have more activity in those few days than we can accommodate.”

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The game, at Arizona State’s 72,216-seat Sun Devil Stadium, has been sold out for weeks, with scalpers reportedly getting as much as $500 for prime seats.

With 35,000 out-of-state visitors expected for the game, Fiesta Bowl public relations director Tony Alba said hotel rooms are nearly as hard to find as tickets to the game.

“They’re just about full,” Alba said. “I’m sure if you look hard enough you can find a room, but most of the big resorts are booked up and have been for some time.”

Alba said credentials have been issued for more than 800 working media, and that more than 1,100 actually are expected to cover the game. He said the previous high was 1,026 credentials for the Penn State-Miami game.

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