Merchants hope to attract bowl game visitors downtown

Merchants hope to attract bowl game visitors downtown

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - The Nova Home Loans Arizona Bowl, which will be played at Arizona Stadium on Dec. 30, is expanding its reach further into the Tucson business community.

At a meeting Monday morning, Nov. 14, several downtown merchants submitted a wish list and brainstormed ideas which will make them more visible and involved in the planning process for the game.

Coming off a very slow summer, business has picked up in recent weeks and the merchants see the bowl game as a way to continue the momentum.

"There's strength in working together, so we all want to come together," said Margo Susco, owner of Hydra Leather downtown. "We're all working for the same goal."

Of particular interest to the bowl game officials is to increase attendance.

Last year's game between Colorado State and Nevada drew 22,500 fans and while not a bad year we are told, below the 30,000 needed to insure success beyond the five-year contract window.

"If we're doing well, we probably will draw 10,000 to 15,000 from the schools," said Mike Feder, the game's Executive Director. "That's not enough."

According to Susco, some of the ideas being tossed around are to dress up stores in school colors, balloons to direct fans to certain restaurants and bars catering to their schools, having restaurants adopt themes of the particular schools and naming food and drinks after the schools and their mascots.

The hope is to entice the fans who come to cheer their teams to stay downtown beyond game day and to offer an experience so that they want to come back.

But also, through the block party and tailgating events, to make it attractive to people who already live here, who even though they may not have skin in the game itself, will support it because its a "community event."

"We want to be more," Feder said. "We want it to be a major economic drive in this community."

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