College Football Playoff

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The College Football National Championship Game will be held January 11 at the University of Phoenix Stadium January 11. Win Holden, the co-chair of the Arizona Organizing Committee for the 2016 College Football Playoff National Championship, will bring us up to date on preparations for the game and talk about its expected impact.

Ted Simons: Coming up next on "Arizona Horizon," the college football playoff championship game will be played soon in the valley.

Ted Simons: Also tonight, actor Daniel Baldwin talks about beating drug addiction.

Ted Simons: And we'll take to you a café that helps refugees succeed in their new home. That's next on "Arizona Horizon."

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

Ted Simons: Good evening and welcome to "Arizona Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. Susan Bitter-Smith announced today that she's resigning from the Arizona corporation commission. The resignation will be effective January 4th. The move comes after the state attorney general filed a petition to the Arizona Supreme Court earlier this month seeking to remove Bitter-Smith from office for conflict of interest concerns regarding Bitter-Smith's work as the head of a cable television trade group while serving on the commission. Bitter-Smith filed a response to the court action yesterday claiming there was no conflict of interest. And today she said she still wants the case to be heard by the court. But that the controversy had become too much of a distraction. Governor Ducey will name a replacement to serve the rest of the term, which runs through 2016.

Ted Simons: The state's unemployment rate fell to 6% largely due to seasonal retail jobs and the construction sector, which showed its first November job gain in 10 years. Arizona's jobless rate is still a full percentage higher than the national average which remains at 5%.

Ted Simons: The Arizona Department of Correction has awarded a 20-year contract to a Tennessee company to house inmates in Eloy. It will pay the corrections corporation of America $22 million a year which the corrections department says would be less than housing the inmates in a state-run facility.

Ted Simons: The college football playoff national championship game will be held January 11th at University of Phoenix stadium. Here now to update preparations for the big event is Win Holden, the co-chair of the state organizing committee for the 2016 college football playoff championship. Good to see you again, thanks for being here. How are preparations going?

Win Holden: Wow, it's fast and furious. We were in Dallas a year ago. We went over there to observe the first national championship game. Today January 11th, 2016, seemed like a lifetime away. Now we are 25 days away.

Ted Simons: What were the concerns then? Have the concerns changed?

Win Holden: The concern is always to make sure that we live up to our reputation is a stager of world-class events and clearly we are very confident that that's going to happen. The one thing that we had no control over resolved itself pretty successfully with the selection of the four semifinal teams. Those games occur on New Year's Eve. Then the winners of those won't be here in Phoenix on January 11th.

Ted Simons: As far as, I want to get to the teams and those locations in a second but as far as, what is involved in preparing for such a thing? I know we have a history of these big games and these big events. Does it change with -- it has to with each event, doesn't it?

Win Holden: Sure. What really is driving the system now when you look at Super Bowl, a national championship game, the final four we will host here, the men's final four in 2017, I don't think it's the an accident the valley was successful in obtaining those events. We clearly have to rely upon raising money. We have a tremendously successful group of volunteers who are committed to making the experience for guests absolutely first rate. And with these larger-scale events, Super Bowl we just experienced earlier this year, and with the champ game coming up, there's so much for valley residents. Whether they have a ticket or not. There's so many events that people can take advantage of downtown in the campus.

Ted Simons: Talk about those events. Where will, will it be focused downtown for the most part?

Win Holden: Preliminarily the large events will be downtown Phoenix. The reason for that is the whole Super Bowl experience proved that when you have a walkable campus for people to do, whether it's going to the fan central experience, or the playoff play list live where they are going to be free concerts, big-name entertainment, John Cougar Mellencamp, Sierra, people who I don't have a clue--but my daughters think it's really a big deal. Those kinds of things are free to valley residents. And you can take advantage of just coming in and soaking up some of the atmosphere. In Glendale there's a substantial amount of playoff activities prior to the game on game day that people can take advantage of. And obviously that's a ticket holder thing and that's a little bit different. But you won't be able to go from January 8th through the 11th, this is going to be the epicenter of the college football universe.

Ted Simons: You mentioned the teams. We know we bought the Alabama and Clemson and Michigan State. And Oklahoma, I know, I'm not going to leave them out at all. Is the state advertising in Oklahoma in South Carolina, in Michigan? Is the state reaching out a little bit saying, here we are?

Win Holden: The difference in the model of this, it's a little bit like the Super Bowl. We had to bid for the right to host this game. And so the college playoff folks really control the ticket sales and they do the outreach into those individual markets. Now, we will reach out to the University administrations, the alumni associations, particularly the local alumni associations and provide them with opportunities to participate. But it's a totally different model from the old days of the Fiesta Bowl where we would send people to each of those markets in our lovely yellow jackets and do exactly what you and I are doing, meeting with other media and trying to tout the importance of coming to the game.

Ted Simons: There's another game, the Fiesta Bowl, which sometimes is a big deal and sometimes isn't such a big deal. This year, Ohio state and Notre Dame are going to be playing here.

Win Holden: Two very small --

Ted Simons: Yeah, we have heard of them before. Can there be too much of a good thing?

Win Holden: Well, I don't think so. If you are a college football fan, I don't think you can OD on college football. Particularly this time of year as we are getting into the bowl season. And you can argue that there are too many bowl games. That's for somebody else to decide, not me. But when you give these student athletes the opportunity to be rewarded for their efforts over the course of a season, that's what bowl games are all about.

Ted Simons: Well yeah, great for the student athletes but as far as the city is concerned, the region, do we have enough hotel rooms? Are there enough things to do? Are there enough vacancies? Ohio state and Notre Dame are pretty good traveling teams. Then you have got the championship game and you know they are going to travel. The cardinals are in the playoffs. And someone is going to come out here from some other NFL city, and Arizona fans going that's a lot of stuff going on.

Win Holden: Absolutely. And It's kind of going to be nifty to be a part of that. Soak yourselves in all that excitement. But the good news is the staging of the games and the timing of the games give us some air. So the second bowl game, the Cactus Bowl is on January 2nd and then we have got until the 8th before activities related to the champ game occur. So there's plenty of time for the community to recover for people to move out of the hotel rooms. But the other advantage that this market has is we're a resort destination. We know how to do mega events. We know how to host massively large groups downtown Phoenix, the other hotels, other communities, Mesa, Scottsdale, Tempe. All of them are part of the program. And are committed to making this successful.

Ted Simons: Last question. For valley residents, watching right now, saying this is all fine and Dan de, but what's in it for me?

Win Holden: Will with, couple of things. When you look the a it from a more macro perspective the economic development activity is extraordinary. The four BCS championship games that the Fiesta Bowl hosted most recently generated almost $650 million in economic impact. It's a substantial economic driver for that. Secondly, local residents, on a more micro level have the opportunity to get involved as volunteers. We need about 1200 volunteers to make sure our guests and visitors have a terrific experience. So if you simply go to AZchampiongame.org, there's a button you can click to volunteer. And we'd love to have folks volunteer.

Ted Simons: All right. Well, sounds like you are set to go. Huh?

Win Holden: Ready to go.

Ted Simons: Exciting times. What are you going to do on the 12th?

Win Holden: Probably sleep in!

Ted Simons: All right. Good to see you Win. Thanks for joining us.

Win Holden: Thank you, Ted.

Win Holden: The co-chair of the Arizona Organizing Committee for the 2016 College Football Playoff National Championship

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