Fiesta Bowl

A look at the Fiesta Bowl’s epic impact

The Fiesta Bowl has long been well-known as one of the elite college football postseason games. Some of the greatest games in college football history were played in the Fiesta Bowl.

Who could forget the magical trick plays that led Boise State to a thrilling win over powerful Oklahoma in 2007 or the exhilarating finish in 2003 when Ohio State outlasted Miami to win a national championship in a game that still boasts the most future NFL players on the field in one game. 

Maybe the game that put the Fiesta Bowl on the map was in 1987 when Penn State defeated Miami, 14-10, in the first arranged national championship. Penn State intercepted Vinny Testaverde five times, the last one on the game’s final play as the Hurricanes were inside the 10-yard line and driving to score.

Our reputation as a first-in-class college football bowl organization has been established over 48 years, from our well-known hospitality, hosting some of college football’s most memorable moments and being a “Bowl of Firsts” – the first to have a title sponsor, the first to have a female and African-American as Bowl president, the first to have 3,000 volunteers, the first of the then non-legacy bowls to host a national championship. 

Back in 1971, our nine Founders worked diligently to secure a new college football bowl game for Arizona, to enhance the stature of our state with a high-profile event that would draw tourism and population growth.

They called it “the state’s largest and most important community effort in history” in the pitch to the NCAA. From the start, the Fiesta Bowl organization was committed to Community Service, Championing Charitable Causes, Driving Economic Impact and Creating Innovative Events on and off the field.

Over the last 10-plus years, we’ve stepped up our community impact even further. By filling hotel rooms, restaurants, stadiums, golf courses and more of Arizona’s entertaining attractions, the Fiesta Bowl has driven nearly $3 Billion in economic impact to the state of Arizona.

When fans come to enjoy the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl at State Farm Stadium or the Cheez-It Bowl in downtown Phoenix at Chase Field, they spend an average of 3.5 nights in a hotel room and enjoying one of America’s finest tourist destinations. 

Leading up to that eventful weekend, and tracing back to our founding days, the Fiesta Bowl is “More Than Just A Game.” We have a full slate of events throughout the year, in fact staging an event in 10 of the 12 months of the year. 

Long after the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl’s final whistle, you can support the Fiesta Bowl organization through events such as the Aerospace Challenge, Wells Fargo Par 3 Challenge, Desert Financial Fiesta Bowl Parade, Arizona Bank & Trust Kickoff Luncheon and many more.

Our Board of Directors, Yellow Jacket Committee, ambassadors, volunteers and staff are proud of our year-long work making a community impact through charitable contributions and off-the-field events.

You’ve seen our snazzy Yellow Jackets around the Valley of the Sun. Those individuals serve our organization and the community through volunteerism and a high standard of excellence. 

As an organization, we’ve elevated our commitment to championing charitable causes with the formation of Fiesta Bowl Charities. Our mission is to provide grants to charities throughout the state of Arizona that fit into our three pillars of giving – youth, sports and education. 

Over the last four years, the Fiesta Bowl has donated $10 Million in charitable giving and more than $15.5 Million in the last nine seasons. We’re proud to award $3 Million in charitable giving for 2019-20, the most of any college football bowl organization.

As part of our outreach efforts, Fiesta Bowl Charities will provide $1 Million for the second year in a row to support Arizona’s teachers – with 200 teachers each receiving a $5,000 grant for their classrooms – in the Wishes for Teachers, powered by DriveTime program.

We know that teachers take money out of their own pockets to provide necessary resources for their classrooms. So we decided to make a difference by celebrating, honoring and financially supporting our state’s teachers. In the four years of the Wishes for Teachers program, we’ve granted teachers’ wishes that have included sports equipment, technology, purchasing eyeglasses for students who couldn’t afford them and even taking a chorus group to perform at Carnegie Hall. 

So how does all of this charitable giving happen? Well it is because of our community. Proceeds from ticket sales to the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl, Cheez-It Bowl and all our events go directly into supporting all of these community programs. 

Thank you for your support of the Fiesta Bowl organization. We couldn’t satisfy our mission – to enhance the lives of Arizonans across the state on a year-round basis – without your participation.


Patrick Barkley serves as Fiesta Bowl Chairman of the Board of Directors and Mike Nealy is the Fiesta Bowl organization’s executive director.