National championship can ring up benefits from TV exposureBy Paola Iuspa
Miami-Dade tourism officials are betting on more than a football game in this year's NCAA championship.
The rotating location of the Bowl Championship Series brings the battle for No. 1 here every fourth year and when the University of Oklahoma battles Florida State University at Pro Player Stadium, the game will bring more to Miami than college football fans.
When ABC Sports airs the FedEx Orange Bowl to remote sites on Jan. 3 to determine the No. 1 college team in the country, Miami will enjoy an exposure that will translate into more publicity and visitors, said William Talbert III, president and CEO of the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau.
"We are going to get millions of free media exposure," he said. "This is the best time of the year to show Miami" with an average temperature of 75 degrees when many parts of the country are below freezing.
"The eyes of the nation are going to be on this game," said Edgar Jones Jr., immediate past president of the Orange Bowl Committee. "We will have more attention on us and more fans, media people and dignitaries coming to town."
The Bowl Championship Series, a match between college football's top two teams, is expected to have an impact on South Florida exceeding $140 million $40 million more than in a non-championship Orange Bowl, said Sherrill Hudson, Orange Bowl Committee president.
"We anticipate over 20,000 people from Oklahoma," Mr. Hudson said.
Visitors join locals in spending for lodgings, meals, entertainment, car rentals, shopping and local transportation, says a report prepared by the Strategy Research Corp. following the 1998 Orange Bowl Championship.
Between the game and the Orange Bowl parade, South Florida received about $144.5 million, according to the study. About $53 million was spent on lodging $34 million in Miami-Dade County, $15 million in Broward and $4 million in Palm Beach.
Visitors, the study said, spent about $47 million on meals, including $32 million in Miami-Dade, $14 million in Broward and $1 million in Palm Beach.
Entertainment brought to South Florida about $23 million, car rentals $13.6 million, transportation $5.7 and shopping $1.6 million, according to Strategy Research, which collected data from the Miami-Dade County planning department and the US Department of Commerce.
The 75,192-seat Pro Player stadium is already sold out, Mr. Hudson said.
During a regular Orange Bowl, the stadium usually doesn't sell out by a 10% margin, Mr. Jones said.
Florida State University is fighting for the championship for the third year in a row, Mr. Hudson said. For Oklahoma, playing in the Orange Bowl is not new. He said the team had participated in 17 Orange Bowl games so far.
It will be the 15th time a championship match is being held in the 67-year-old FedEx Orange Bowl although the idea of a formal national champion match is relatively new.
The Bowl Championship series, which consists of the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, the Nokia Sugar Bowl in New Orleans, the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl in Tempe, AZ, and the Orange Bowl, rotates the championship match. Every four years, Miami gets to play host.
The series was started in 1998 following the termination of a three-year-old Bowl Alliance agreement. The Alliance system was designed to allow the champions of the Atlantic Coast, the Big East, the Southeastern and Big 12 Conferences along with two highly-ranked, at-large teams to be matched in three alliance bowls Fiesta, Sugar and Orange. Prior to the Bowl Alliance, the Bowl Coalition was in place for three years.
For the game, the Pro Player Stadium parking lot will be transformed into an entertainment complex with life music, interactive games and sports memorabilia. The game starts at 8 p.m.
The Orange Bowl committee started the Orange Bowl celebration this month with various events such as a wrestling tournament, basketball classics, a tennis championship and a youth football league.
Mr. Talbert said the bureau in partnership with the City of Miami and the Orange Bowl Committee produced a 30-second promotional spot to be aired during the parade.
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