BILL HANCOCK: Welcome to today's teleconference regarding the College Football Playoff site selection for our National Championship Games. On the call today, we have Bill Hancock, the Executive Director of the College Football Playoff, and he'll make two introductions. After some opening remarks by each of our speakers, we'll open it up for questions.
Bill Hancock, Executive Director of College Football Playoffs for opening remarks and introductions.
BILL HANCOCK: Hey, thank you, and thanks everyone for joining us today. It is my great pleasure to announce that the Playoff Management Committee earlier this afternoon awarded the 2016 College Football Playoff College Football Championship game to Arizona at the University of Phoenix Stadium and 2017 to Tampa Bay at Raymond James Stadium. We want to congratulate both of these terrific cities.
Joining us today on the call are Robert Shelton, the executive director of the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl and Rob Higgins, the Executive Director of the Tampa Bay Sports Commission. They are very excited and we are too. This is a terrific day for both of these communities and for the playoff. The championship game will be a significant event on the American calendar and not just on the sports calendar.
Arizona and Tampa Bay will be excellent hosts for the second and third games of the playoff era. As you know, they're following AT&T Stadium in Arlington, which will host the first game.
This was not an easy decision. It was a very competitive process. The decision was difficult for the management committee because we received eight excellent proposals. The response from these eight communities was affirming. It shows the popularity of college football in general, and the significant attractiveness of this new championship game.
We could have gone anywhere, but Arizona and Tampa Bay were selected because of their facilities, their community leadership, and the proposal that their community leaders submitted. Frankly, they batted 1000. Arizona has proven itself to be one of the greatest settings for premier college football events, and it's become a favorite destination for fans around the country.
The folks at Arizona put together an exceptional bid that won the day with the management committee. Likewise, Tampa Bay is a terrific destination with a beautiful stadium, and a community that is committed to hosting big events in a gracious and thorough manner. We were very happy with the facilities and creative proposals and the commitment of support from the community leaders.
With that, let me turn the microphone over to Robert Shelton, Executive Director of the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl who will be speaking today on behalf of the Arizona College Football National Championship Game host committee. Robert?
ROBERT SHELTON: Thank you, Bill. We are, of course, elated. On behalf of all of the community leaders here in the Valley of the Sun, all of my colleagues and of course the thousands of volunteers who have made the Fiesta Bowl itself so successful over the decades. We are grateful for the opportunity to host the title game. We will continue to perform at the standard of excellence that is expected of us.
Congratulations to the College Football Playoff group. You have set the stage for truly an evolutionary milestone in the history of college football, and we promise to serve as a host that continues with that theme. So we are thrilled here, and we are excited about working together with you as we look forward to January 11, 2016.
BILL HANCOCK: Thank you very much, Robert. Now a statement from Rob Higgins, Executive Director of the Tampa Bay Sports Commission.
ROB HIGGINS: Thank you, Bill, and thank you to the entire Football Playoff Management Committee for this truly unique opportunity. From the moment the discussion began about college, the potential for a College Football National Championship Game with the playoffs, it was an event that we were truly focused on because it has a chance, and it will be one of the premier, if not thee premier event in all of sports. For us, we just put a lot of time, energy, and effort into it between Hillsboro County, the City of Tampa, Raymond James Stadium, and just the entire, entire community and entire Tampa Bay area.
So, with that, we certainly appreciate this truly unique opportunity. We couldn't be more excited to be able to create an incredible experience for both the student‑athletes as well as all the college football fans. We're looking forward to one of the greatest week‑long celebrations college football and sports has ever seen.
Q. Bill, obviously New Orleans has put a lot of effort into this. What can you say about its bid that came up short next to Arizona's for 2016?
BILL HANCOCK: New Orleans got a very close look as always. Hosted the Sugar Bowl and the folks in the community and the stadium did a terrific job in preparing for this. As I mentioned before, we had eight exceptional bids. It just happened that Arizona and Tampa were a little more exceptional.
New Orleans was not able to fully comply with certain business points of this, but their bid was terrific.
Of course New Orleans has the honor of hosting the first semifinal game or the second one. The first semifinal games in the first year of next year. New Orleans will be part of the College Football Playoff for many years to come.
Q. I wanted to see if you could run over the main criteria that the committee used for these selections and sort of what, in general, they are specifically looking for from these proposals year to year?
BILL HANCOCK: This was the second time we've done this, of course. We did it last spring when Dallas was selected in a similarly narrow competition with Tampa Bay. Tampa Bay had submitted an exceptional bid last spring and Dallas was just a little more exceptional then.
Certainly we were looking for compliance with the RFP. We had a set of standards, you know the general ones, the facility, 65,000 seats, air service, lodging, practice sites. The ability and the commitment of the host city to stage an event that we think will be unparalleled in college football.
We looked at things such as‑‑ well, I'll give you an example. These first three cities are in three different time zones. Obviously, that fact was not lost on the Selection Committee. I hope that's helpful.
Q. Do you have a schedule yet for the next round of proposals and selection?
BILL HANCOCK: We don't have a firm schedule. Generally, we are thinking about some time in 2015, probably in the spring of 2015.
Q. I'm wondering if we're seeing‑‑ we started in the central, and we're going to go west and then back east. I'm wondering if there is a pattern there that might be sort of developing going forward where, obviously, you want to spread this thing around. But, is it again what we're sort of going to see this similar pattern of once we go west we'll have to come back east and try to hit the central?
BILL HANCOCK: There is no set rotation or pattern. But, obviously, playing in three time zones with the first three games was something that turned out to be important for our group. This is a national event. We want to give fans in different parts of the country a chance to be involved in it.
So I think you can expect to see the game moved around to different parts of the country in the future, but without a firm rotation.
Q. Can you talk a little bit about who some of the players were that you had to bring together when you were putting together this proposal when you were figuring out how best to basically pitch Glendale to the CSC?
ROBERT SHELTON: Yes, thank you for the question, and thanks for the great programming you have on KJZZ I'm a regular listener.
As you know from the title of our proposal, Arizona 2016, this took a number of communities, plural, coming together. We were fortunate to secure the strong support of five mayors of the major cities here in the Valley of the Sun, the governor, and chair of our honorary board, Senator McCain.
The mayors were critical in helping us not only through their own offices but also through the convention and visitor bureaus that they worked with. That was important in securing sites for pregame events. It was important in securing the necessary hotel rooms.
Another group that was really critical, and you think about the stadium and its management was the Arizona Cardinals in AZTA, we have a terrific relationship with the Cardinals and AZTA, that is the Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority, and they were in it from the very beginning as evidenced by Tom Sadler who is the president of AZTA, and the chair of our host committee.
Then, I think I would be remiss if I didn't mention the literally thousands of volunteers that we've had working with the Fiesta Bowl throughout the years. They were there from our board, our Yellow Jackets, to the people from high school kids, to retirees that come out year‑in and year‑out that make our events a success. So the real joy to me that went along with the hard work of putting this together, the joy to me as a native Phoenician was to see how everybody here in the Valley of the Sun came together recognizing the importance of this event.
Q. Dr.Shelton and Mr. Hancock, could you talk about who the five mayors were? And both of you, could you talk a little about where things have gone the last few years to where you are right now?
ROBERT SHELTON: Well, you've been as close to this as anybody, and I appreciate the time you and I have had to spend together in the last two plus years. We start with the mayor of Phoenix, Greg Stanton, and the mayor of Glendale, Jerry Weiers, who I knew well when he was in the State House, Jim Lane of Scottsdale, Mark Mitchell of Tempe, and Scott Smith of Mesa. All five of them really stepped up and played a key role in helping us formulate and bring this all together.
Where we've been in the last couple years, I think history is history, we feel good about where we are. We continue to put on great events, not only our game, but our space challenges, so we have nothing but positives looking towards the future. I think that is reflected, not just from the Fiesta Bowl's perspective, but the way the whole communities came together, the municipalities, the CBBs, the Cardinals, AZTA, you name it. They were able to rally together. We did a lot of the writing and the legwork for them.
Q. Bill, can you ‑‑ how it emerged from the position it's in now to be able to host another championship game?
ROBERT SHELTON: There was a lot of local effort. I gave my board a lot of credit for making tough decisions and putting in governance. We hired some key people. Then, of course, credit goes to our partners throughout this country, to the BCS now for hearing me out, sticking with me, and the commissioners throughout the country for understanding where the Fiesta Bowl was headed.
So it isn't a single effort, it is a whole lot of people coming together and demonstrating by actions, not just words over and over again, where we're going.
Q. Good afternoon, Bill. I wonder if you could just break down why in the long‑term San Antonio wasn't successful today?
BILL HANCOCK: Yeah, I sure can. As I said earlier, I just want to repeat it. We had eight terrific bids, including a very attractive proposal from San Antonio. But the communities that were selected just offered a little bit more. In particular, I have to say they offered stadiums that were more in keeping with the needs of the event. Of course, the first championship game of the new playoff will be played in Texas, so we're not leaving Texas. San Antonio has a great deal to offer for events like this.
This was a very, very competitive process, and we've received excellent bids including two outstanding ones from Arizona and Tampa.
Q. A follow‑up to that. You said that the stadiums offered or the winners offered stadiums more in keeping with the event. Could you see the Alamo Dome as a host for this event moving forward or would a new facility be necessary?
BILL HANCOCK: It's hard to say about the future. When we talked about this with the management committee, they agreed that there is no reason to establish protocol and parameters for future selections at this point. We'll just have to see how it goes. We'll have to see who all is in the field. But I will say we are anticipating an even more competitive process in a couple of years when we crank up and do this again.
Q. I don't mean to be repetitive from what other people are saying, but could you comment on South Florida's bid and maybe how it could have been stronger? That is the first part. Then would Sun Life stadium have to be renovated or upgraded in order to win a title game and some specifics?
BILL HANCOCK: Yeah, you bet. And I hate to be repetitive, but I have to. This was an affirming and an incredible process, and the bids we got were outstanding. No city should feel anything other than the two cities that were selected today just submitted bids that were even better than outstanding.
I will say this about South Florida. Of course we're familiar with the community. It continues to be an outstanding destination. Obviously the Orange Bowl management is second to none. Eric Poms and Michael Sykes and their staff and the committee are just terrific. Because it will host semifinals in 2016 and there after, South Florida was only able to bid for one year of this, for 2017. I think you know that no city would be awarded the championship game in the year it hosts the semifinals.
It was just a matter of the other cities offered better packages for this event at this time. The management committee felt it was time to try a different location. Obviously, with Tampa in the mix for 2017 you can see the outcome.
I will say this about South Florida, we love it there. It's a terrific destination. The other cities in this bidding process offered a little more concise footprint for the event, and we all know that in South Florida we're dealing with one of the world's great destinations and great resort areas. The hotel rates in South Florida were higher than those in the cities that were selected.
The stadium itself was not a drawback to South Florida in this endeavor. It's a terrific stadium. It's met our needs for many years and will continue to meet the needs of the semifinals down the road.
We hope all these cities and others will be in the mix bidding again the next time we get going on looking for championship sites for years four, five, six and beyond.
Q. Okay, so that was a great answer. I'm taking it that it's not necessarily a stadium issue.
BILL HANCOCK: The stadium served us well. We love the stadium. This was not a stadium issue.
Q. That's great. Thanks a lot.
BILL HANCOCK: Okay.
Q. What can Jacksonville do to‑‑ are they always going to be a little bit of an underdog or anything in particular you thought that Jacksonville might be able to do going forward to improve its chances?
BILL HANCOCK: Well, we're very familiar with Jacksonville. We love the people there, and Rick and his crew and everybody in the community did a great job in getting ready for this. I can't stress enough what a competitive and difficult process it was for our management group and management committee, that is.
I think the thing that we all know about Jacksonville, a terrific stadium, lots of seats. The other cities that were selected have more hotel rooms within a closer radius of the stadium.
So I think that was probably the single most important issue as we evaluated Jacksonville in comparison with the other cities.
Again, I'm sounding like a broken record here, but we could have gone anywhere. The fact is that we had two cities that absolutely batted 1000, or if you can bat 1200, they batted 1200?
Q. Is Rob still around?
ROB HIGGINS: Yes.
Q. Rob, you guys have hosted Super Bowls before. I'm just wondering what you feel like the impact of hosting a National Championship college game will do for the city? And second question to that is having done the process earlier, what did you feel like you learned that you could bring back to make a better presentation when you had the second chance?
ROB HIGGINS: I tell you, on the first question, in terms of impact, certainly you've probably read and seen the tremendous economic impact that an event like this can bring. But for us, it's so much about the social impact as well. That's why we really worked to paint a vision of an entire week‑long celebration of activities, events, a lot of different festivities so everybody can really wrap their arms around it and make it truly a special event.
So it's not just the economic impact, it's the social impact of hosting the College Football National Championship Game.
In terms of having gone through the bid process before, I don't really think it's a situation where we had to learn to lose before we could learn to win. We really treated that as halftime for us in terms of the bid process. We knew that this was a long‑term strategy for us. This is an event that we're extremely interested in for many, many years to come.
When you take that perspective, one setback like the inaugural game to Dallas, you make adjustments and then it leads todays such as this one, which is truly an historic one for our entire community.
Q. In the past, the bowls like the Fiesta Bowl and others have used the championship game to really help their bottom line and to raise money for their non‑profit organization. With the new game, my understanding is that you'll be taking all the revenue. So what does a host, besides having the economic benefit, what are the benefits for a host group since the playoff will be taking in all the revenue from this event?
ROBERT SHELTON: You want me to answer that from an Arizona perspective?
BILL HANCOCK: I think probably Robert should answer this from an Arizona perspective. I'm happy to talk about it when Robert's finished.
ROBERT SHELTON: Thanks, Bill. The financial model for our bowls and I imagine for all bowls is changing. It's certainly something that's not static. We're prepared for that and ready to move ahead. The benefits to hosting The National Championship Game I think go along with exactly what Tampa Bay said. There is, of course, the economic development.
The last time we had a champ game here it was just shy of $200 million economic impact as judged by the Carey School at ASU. But the social factor is really important. It demonstrates and in this case confirms that the Valley of the Sun has a status as an elite sports destination. It's hard to measure that in dollars and cents. But when people come here, they see what a great climate we have. The people, the hospitality, that pays off in the short and long run to attracting businesses, to attracting other organizations to come and set up shop here in the Valley of the Sun.
I think the third reason is our volunteers. I keep harping on this theme, but it really is the core of what makes the Fiesta Bowl work. That is all our volunteers. To give them an opportunity to work on this extraordinary game, this remarkable event is something that we feel we owe them for all the work they've put in year after year.
So it's a combination of economic developments, the social impact that pays off down stream for, well, nothing short of advertising in the Valley of the Sun is a great place to live. Then, thirdly, the exceptional opportunities for our volunteers. Some of it is measurable in dollars and cents, and some of it is more subjective, but nevertheless real.
BILL HANCOCK: I would add to Robert's comments, I've been lucky enough to watch this happen for 16 years with the Final Four and now this is my ninth year with the BCS. I cannot stress enough the benefits that Robert outlined.
I always like to focus on how important it is for the community to feel good about itself. People in the community for many years will say, gosh, we hosted the second College Football Playoff National Championship Game. When we begin to do this for the 50th time in the year 2065, Arizona will always be on that list and people are going to feel very good about it.
This is a different model from the BCS days. This is not going to be a bowl game that is administered by the bowl committee and the local community. This is a game that will be administered by the conferences, who manage the College Football Playoffs, the ten conferences. They'll manage it through the staff, our staff in Dallas, and we, in turn, will direct Robert and Rob's staff and volunteers in the local community.
So make no mistake, it is a different animal, but it is still extremely beneficial to the host community. Probably even more so than the current BCS Championship game is.
ROBERT SHELTON: As always, I'm available if you want to chat after this call and talk about it, because I'd be interested in your perspective as well.