A game as big as the BCS Championship needs to have a party. And any good party needs a party host.
The official party place at this year's championship is the Bud Light Fiesta in Scottsdale, complete with live bands, a food court, interactive exhibits, a real grass football field and sports bars in each end zone.
The party creator and host? Beaverton-based SportsOne, Inc. The Oregon company was chosen over four other bidders.
"This was just a big piece of dirt," says Tom Etzel, Sr. VP of SportsOne, as he surveys the 80-yard grass field at the event venue his company created.
PHOTO TOUR: Bud Light Fiesta
We had a bigger vision," says Etzel, explaining how an Oregon company beat out local competitors for the change to host the event.
"We wanted to produce an entertainment venue," says Etzel. The company sold its vision to locals with mock-ups done on iPads, won the contract unanimously in mid-October and by the new year had transformed a vacant dirt lot into the activity hub for the BCS Championship Game.
The Bud Light Fiesta venue offers $2 lunch items from its food court, hosts the ESPN Game Day set, features live music and interactive vendors. The signature events were scheduled for Sunday, when the Fiesta is host to both the Auburn and Oregon official pep rallies. Bo Jackson and Charles Barkley were scheduled to appear at the Auburn rally, while Oregon quarterback greats from Dan Fouts to Joey Harrington and Dennis Dixon were planning to attend Oregon's rally. Otis Day & the Nights, the band made famous in the movie Animal House, was scheduled to cap off the evening with a concert.
SportsOne is a local company. Tom's brother Jim founded the company, and the two have been partners for more than a dozen years. SportsOne is also the company that set up the unique, interactive event venue next to Hayward Field during the 2008 Olympic Track & Field Trials in Eugene.
When the company won the bid for this project, they didn't even know who the teams were. Etzel admits they were excited when the Ducks made it.
"There were definitely some high five's," says Etzel, "but we have to stay neutral because we want Duck and Tiger fans to have an equally good experience. But at 9 p.m. on Sunday night, its all Ducks."
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