Phoenix is among eight finalists to host the 2017-2020 NCAA Men’s Final Four basketball tournaments. Besides providing attention to the city, the events would also bring an economic benefit. NCAA officials will be visiting Phoenix later this month as they make their final decision. Tom Sadler, president and CEO of the Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority, will talk about the effort to get the Final Four in Phoenix.
Ted Simons: Phoenix is among eight finalists to host the NCAA men's final four basketball tournament sometime between 2017 and 2020. NCAA officials will be visiting Phoenix later this month as they make their final decision. Tom Sadler, president and CEO of the Arizona sports and tourism authority joins us now to talk about the effort. Welcome to "Arizona Horizon."
Tom Sadler: Thank you.
Ted Simons: What is the NCAA actually looking for when they look at a site?
Tom Sadler: Well, when they come out, we have in the earlier process of this bid, proposed to them a number of different venues throughout the valley. Remember, this just isn't a two-day event where they play the semis and Saturday and the championship game on Monday. There's a lot of different things that happen associated with this event. So we want to take them around and show them the areas in downtown Phoenix, there's a music festival, they want to have staged, we were thinking about either Phoenix or Tempe. So basically we're just going around to the various venues we've pitched in our proposal to say here's what they think we ought to do.
Ted Simons: There was a pitch back in 2008, and that was rejected. Why was that rejected? What's changed?
Tom Sadler: I think a number of things have changed. One, I think the vitality of the downtown Phoenix area has changed quite a bit. One of the things that they're very interested in having is a campus where they can put on their events, where it's very convenient for the student athletes and the fans, and the coaches, administrators, to be able to get around and enjoy all the things they bring to your city. Admittedly we're a little challenged in that we have the downtown Phoenix area sort of the hub of everything, yet the competition is in Glendale. So I think we've done a better job this time around in our bid by virtue of the fact downtown Phoenix has been built out, and that we've really been able to shrink the footprint to say, all this activity can happen here, yet the competition is out here and both will work in compliment to each other.
Ted Simons: Indeed, I seem to remember in the old days, 2008, that there was a little concern that there was a disconnect between the cities. That everyone wasn't on the same page. Did that happen back then?
Tom Sadler: You know, there were some things that were challenges back then. I'm not sure that was the reason that we didn't get one of the five years that we bid on. I can tell you where I sit now, I'm fully confident that everybody is on the same page, and again, this is a collaborative effort. This is -- ASU is the host school for this. You have to have a host school in order to host -- Or bid on a final four and ultimately host. Arizona sports and tourism authority, we own and operate the building. The Arizona cardinals and the Fiesta Bowl are building partners are involved with this global spectrum, our building manager. So we have an overall what I would consider to be tremendous collaborative effort that I think we're all in the same page, and we're all flying the same flag, and we're looking forward to the NC coming.
Ted Simons: No one biting at each other or fussing and fighting. Transportation, I think you referred to that earlier, again, just having the light rail, biggie?
Tom Sadler: It's huge. And I can't quote the ridership as we sit here right now, but they've asked about that. One of their cornerstone events is their music festival that if we do -- If they do choose to be in -- On Tempe Town Lake, that's the ideal spot because light rail runs right by there and you could be enjoying the event in downtown Phoenix and in 10 minutes, be in downtown Tempe enjoying that.
Ted Simons: The last final four was in Dallas?
Tom Sadler: The last four was in Dallas.
Ted Simons: Did you guys look around?
Tom Sadler: We did.
Ted Simons: What did you see, what did you learn?
Tom Sadler: We learned a great deal. We understand how important it is for that foot print to be as concise as we can make it. We also know that a transportation plan is very important. And we feel like we have our arms around that. So at the end of the day we learned that their preliminary economic impact numbers for bringing an event of that nature to your town, I think their numbers came out at 276 million dollars to that community.
Ted Simons: And is that somewhat similar to Phoenix, is it not, in terms of the lay of the land and how separate and far away things are?
Tom Sadler: I think our position is that we have a little bit of a leg up on that. I don't think we're quite as spread out as they are, even in the downtown area. If you wanted to go to the coaches' convention hotel in Dallas, you would take a cab to go there. Here it's a few blocks to walk over to the Hyatt I think is where we're going to have it. So I think we're a little more concise in that regard.
Ted Simons: And as far as the impact on just simply showcase the valley and the Phoenix area, how do you calculate something like that?
Tom Sadler: I think it's interesting; we need to point out this February we're going to have a little event called the Super Bowl out at the stadium. A year from now, I don't think widely known, but the city, this collaboration I just spoke of, bid on the college national championship game, and we're going to host in 2016. That's the new version of the BCS. So the years that we're bidding on this will be for 2017, '18, '19, or 20, we couldn't bid for '18 because we didn't have the hotel rooms. We could have the trifecta where you have the Super Bowl, $500 million economic impact, we know what the BCS championship is, and this one in 2017.
Ted Simons: This is an odd question, but would the NCAA like that in the sense they think they would get lost in the hubbub? It's great to have everything in one spot for us, but do they want something different and exotic and unique?
Tom Sadler: That's a good question. When we travel to the NCAA for sort of consulting meetings, where we were just going forth on the bid, we had just received the bid for the college national championship. Days before. We walked in and they greeted us and congratulations, not that we didn't have credibility before, but we sure did then. I think the days are gone where they're not going to worry about any kind of community fatigue. There's a little thing called the waste management open that goes on every year. The Fiesta Bowl is on every year. So that's really not an issue for us and hopefully we've been able to communicate that to them.
Ted Simons: When are they visiting, when will they make their decision?
Tom Sadler: They come in in September -- They come in next Tuesday, Wednesday, and then they're out, and then in November a small group of us will go to Indianapolis and present in person, within a few days after that, probably mid-November we'll know if we got one of those sites, one of those dates.
Ted Simons: It sounds promising. Good to have you here. Thanks for joining us.
Tom Sadler: Thanks for having me.
Tom Sadler:President and CEO, Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority;