Even with all the economic uncertainty we’re facing – now that we’re officially in a recession -- Orange Bowl Committee officials are still happy to be hosting two bowl games this year: the 75th FedEx Orange Bowl on Jan. 1 and the BCS National Championship game on Jan. 8.
Corporations and fans are belt-tightening, of course, but that’s why hosting the national championship game this year – and the extra bowl game – is good news, said Orange Bowl Committee CEO Eric Poms.
“You feel it with the corporate community, you certainly pay attention to the ability of fans to travel, but fortunately the BCS has great significance. So hopefully the universities the first week build a lot of excitement and have that opportunity to play in the 75th FedEx Orange Bowl," Poms said. "And the next week, when you have the national championship at stake we expect there won’t be enough inventory of tickets and sponsorships and suites.”
A bit of an unknown is Cincinnati, which is expected to face the ACC champion (Boston College or Virginia Tech) in the Orange Bowl game, but chances are Bearcats fans will relish the trip to see the team in its first major bowl game in warm South Florida.
“We don’t know because it’s a program that joined the Big East a few years ago. We don’t know what the reaction will be,” Poms said. “Our gauge is when programs get in for the first time, there’s an explosion of enthusiasm because it’s a stage they’ve never been on … It’s cold there, so it’s an opportunity.”
Following that game with the national championship game should be good for the tourism industry.
“The hotels, airlines and rental cars and restaurants get double the dose,” Poms said. “I think it’s great visibility for the community.”
"The economy affects every industry in this country, the bowl industry is no different,” Poms said, but he also said the enthusiasm of college football fans is unrivaled. "There's a passion, people went to school there, they're connected to their university. So when it comes to opportunities such as suite sales or hospitality or travel, I think it transcends that decision."