Mega Sporting Events

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The Super Bowl, the Pro Bowl, the College Football Playoff National Championship, the NCAA Final Four, all mega sports events that will be played in the Phoenix area. Brad Wright, co-chair of the Arizona Organizing Committee, the host of the 2016 College Football Playoff National Championship, will talk about what it takes to get mega sports events in Arizona and what the payoff is.

Ted Simon: The Super Bowl, the Pro Bowl, the College Football Championship, the NCAA final four, all big-time sports events to be played in the Phoenix area. What does it take to get these major events in the valley and what is the payoff to the region? For answers, we welcome Brad Wright, co-chair of the Arizona Organizing Committee, the host of the 2016 college football national championship. Thanks for being here. We appreciate it.

Brad Wright: Thanks for having me Ted.

Ted Simon: Why Phoenix? Why now?

Brad Wright: The reason why is because we do it really, really well. I can tell you as chairman of the organizing committee when we talked to the folks from Dallas that host the event, about the reason why we were successful in our bid, they told us that we really knocked it out of the park. We met all the bid specifications with we checked all the boxes. We have a fantastic stadium. One of the best in the world. We have tourism structure, we have light rail, we have an expanded convention center, we have communities that are willing to step in and host these events. But I think the thing that really puts us over the top is that we are a world-class destination that hosts world-class events. This is where people want to come. They want to come here to games, they want to come here to vacation and when you put that all together it makes this really a compelling offer, and I think that's why we've been so successful. And after we were awarded the bid we created the Arizona organizing committee, which is a group of leaders throughout the state, business leaders, sports leaders, tourism professionals, and that group is charged with hosting this event and making sure we raised the money and that we produce a really great set of events, so that we stay in the running for future ones.

Ted Simon: And those future ones are obviously going to look at these here and probably like what they see as far as the way things were coordinated and the way things were held. However, are we going to be able to afford some of those future ones, whether it'd be the NFL, NCAA, demand for hotel rooms and demands for police escorts. Are we still going to be in the game here when you've got Jerry's world in Dallas and a new stadium in L.A.?

Brad Wright: It's a great question and I don't want to sound hyperbolic here, but we can't afford not to be in the game. We invested in this infrastructure, we have terrific infrastructure, it allows us to host these events and the economic impact, it comes back to that. The last four BCS championship games we've hosted the precursor to the college football championship game generated according to the W.P. carey school of business, $646 million in economic impact. This game with all its eyes on it with the new format that we're excited about, the Super Bowl format where it's a four day celebration of college football, will have four days worth of events for the football fan and the nonfootball fan alike, a three day music festival, a 5k run, a fan fest, some of the NFL experience. So all those events are going to drive a lot of economic activity. On top of, on top of that direct spend from that, this is another opportunity for us to showcase the state and working with the governor and the commerce authority, right now, with the Super Bowl they're hosting 70 CEOs from around the country, large companies that are here participating and really getting a chance to see that Arizona is a great place to do business. So our committee intends to do the exact same things. We want to continue telling that story about why this is a great place to do business and drive that economic impact.

Ted Simon: We had economists on last night from all stripes and it was a good conversation and I think everyone thought because of the cost, yes, it makes sense to get this done, and it's really not a bad thing, the Super Bowl's here but there is a concern on return on investment. Is the return on investment, is it strong enough to keep going, especially when the cost and the price in the future might keep increasing?

Brad Wright: I tell you I keep going back to the economic impact and look outside right now, there's activities going on that wouldn't be happening but for the Super Bowl. I watched last night, I thought it was a great conversation and they talked about displaced activity. I challenge you to find that kind of activity going on right down the street in any other January in the valley and I know that's a great time for the hotels otherwise, but we have lots of other activity going on that I think really drives it.

Ted Simon: As far as your group and getting the NCAA championship game and it's just everyone getting these things out here and you mentioned hosting business leaders and executives. That seems -- to get the people that are here to come back, to get the business leaders that are here to reconsider moving here or those that are here to stay here, how do you do that? Are there concrete plans?

Brad Wright: There are plans and I'll tell you drawing from the experience we just had in Dallas, a contingent of our committee went down to Dallas to experience the very first game that was hosted a couple of weeks ago and I made a point of talking to industry professionals and executives who were there about us hosting this coming January and I asked them the question, what can we do to make your experience really positive? And they said you've already got it. You've got the weather, it's a great place for us to go and I asked them to tell me a little bit more about that. They said when we came to this event, we came solo. When we come to Phoenix we're going bring our families, we're going to stay a couple of extra days and vacation either on the front end or back end, and I think it comes back to lifestyle. And, you know, if we can further expose these folks to what we have to offer here, and work in conjunction with the state, with commerce, I think we can continue to tell a compelling story that's going to drive future economic development.

Ted Simon: What would you like to see? What are challenges out there, what can be improved as far as coordination for getting these big games in the valley? What can you do better?

Brad Wright: There's that goes into it as you might imagine, everything from making sure that you have the requisite number of hotel rooms to making sure they have transportation plans in place. It's funny the little things can turn these things sideways. A lot of front end preparation. I think the best thing we can do is pay attention to what's happening here at the Super Bowl and by all accounts it's coming off fantastically. Paying attention to what happened in Dallas and drawing from their experiences and adopting kind of the best practices of both to make sure that our event is fantastic.

Ted Simon: Are there folks out there that are watching, though, the requirements and the requisite things that are in the contracts as far as the NCAA or the NFL? They're going to ask for the sun and moon if you don't watch them a little bit, aren't they?

Brad Wright: It's all a negotiation and I agree it's got to make sense at the end of the day for us but I'll tell you the return on those things so far has proven to be, I heard Dennis Hoffman last night and jim rounds and even byron said well it's close. I think there was pretty good evidence there that these things do generate a significant amount of economic impact and we're excited to be part of it.

Ted Simon: And Byron lives in Glendale so he likes it. Are you hearing that there are groups watching what's happening here so that they can take it back to their communities?

Brad Wright: There are. There are folks from the Dallas cfp group that are here right now, the main committee, watching what happens. There are folks here from Tampa that host our college game in two years. So I think there's a lot of eyes on this to see what works and again, we do this really well so I think we're going to set a great example.

Ted Simon: I want to make sure we have enough to ante up. I don't want us to be personify out of the -- priced out of the game?

Brad Wright: We have a community that's supporting the events, they've embraced them. We're going to tell the story of economic development and why it makes sense to continue to invest in these. We've got a great run coming up. We have the Super Bowl now, college champ game next year, and then final four. There's only one other city in history that's done that and it's a wonderful platform for us to showcase this state. And so we're going to keep working with the communities to support and it's not just money that we need. There's -- people can get involved, businesses can get involved with in-kind and with volunteers and those are all important parts of the process.

Ted Simon: Alright. All eyes and ears and voices are on the valley right now. You can't flip on a radio without hearing Phoenix this and Scottsdale, Tempe, Glendale that. Congratulations on getting that championship game.

Brad Wright: Thank you very much.

Ted Simon: Friday on "Arizona Horizon," it's the Journalists' Roundtable. We'll look at a move to block a voter-sponsored initiative legalizing marijuana. And we'll hear about an effort to double the length of house and senate terms at the state legislature. That is it for now, I'm Ted Simons, thanks for joining us. You have a great evening.

Video: "Arizona Horizon" is made possible by contributions from the friends of eight, members of your Arizona PBS station. Thank you.

Brad Wright:Co-Chair, Arizona Organizing Committee;

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