College bowl games continue to bring in money to Arizona

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- At Fiesta Bowl headquarters near the Scottsdale Fashion Square mall Friday afternoon, there is a line out the door to buy tickets.

Fans are looking to snag seats for Saturday’s Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe and Thursday’s Tostitos Fiesta Bowl at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale.

Fiesta Bowl Executive Director Robert Shelton says he expects about 40,000 people to attend the Buffalo Wild Wings match-up between TCU and Michigan state and 70,000 people to watch Oregon and Kansas State battle it out in Glendale.

“We expect to sell out the Fiesta Bowl,” Shelton said.

Tickets are still available for the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, but Shelton said only suite seats are left for the Fiesta Bowl.

“Surprisingly, you might get a better deal on those seats than buying from a scalper on the streets,” he said.

Of the 120,000 or so tickets sold so far for bowl week, about half are sold back to the teams. The rest go on the market to the public, at an average price of $220.00.

“That brings in about $14 million,” said Shelton.

Over the past five years, Shelton said bowl games have brought in more than a billion dollars to the Valley of the Sun and the state of Arizona.

“This year, I would estimate with two bowl games, we’re going to see about $250 million,” Shelton said.

Most of the money comes from out of state visitors spending money in hotels and restaurants.

The Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant in Tempe Friday was packed with more than 300 members of the Michigan State band and cheerleading team.

“We have staff from all of the stores in the region coming to help us out,” said Assistant General Manager Ric Stanfield.

Stanfield said he expects even more business tomorrow, before the bowl game.

“We’re going to turn this entire parking lot into an extended Buffalo Wild Wings. Beer tents, food tents, live bands,” Stanfield said.

When Stanfield was asked if this weekend would be hectic he responded, “I think so, but it’s a good kind of hectic.”