Fiesta, Cactus Bowl games bring 60,000 visitors to Arizona

Fiesta Bowl and Cactus Bowl, the two annual college football bowl games hosted in the Valley during the 2015-16 season, combined to generate an estimated $169.4 million in economic impact, including $79 million in total direct spending for the Valley and more than $7.5 million in direct tax revenue.

The breakdown specifically between the two games attributed $111.6 million from the Fiesta Bowl and $30.7 million from the Cactus Bowl, in additional to $27.1 million in organizational spending, according to a press release.

The 45th Annual Fiesta Bowl (Notre Dame vs. Ohio State) and the 27th Annual Cactus Bowl (West Virginia vs. Arizona State) combined to attract more than 60,775 visitors to the Valley.

The two games represent one of the largest driving forces for visitors to the state seeking sporting events.

“We are honored to host the Fiesta and Cactus Bowl each year as the positive economic impact for Arizona achieves our organization’s mission,” Fiesta Bowl Executive Director Mike Nealy said in the release.

“When visitors come to our games, they dine at local restaurants, stay at local hotels and shop at local stores. In doing so, it contributes to the various efforts we support. Hopefully, visitors will have a memorable experience and a big win for their team. Surely, it’s a big win financially for the state and our community.”

According to the study, the economic impact estimate of the 2016 Fiesta and Cactus Bowl games were developed using three distinct factors: outoftown direct visitor spending, organizational spending and indirect and induced effects. 

(graph provided by Fiesta Bowl)

(graph provided by Fiesta Bowl)

(graph provided by Fiesta Bowl)

(graph provided by Fiesta Bowl)

One of the key findings of the report was the comparison with the economic impact cited from the 2010-11 Fiesta and Cactus (formerly named Insight) Bowls.

Adjusting for differences in the buying power of the dollar over the six years, the report suggests that the total gross impact of visitors, media and non-Arizona based organizational expenditure during the 2015-16 games were approximately 5 percent greater than the impact during 2010-11.

This is an especially noteworthy number, given the presence of an in-state team (Arizona State University) in the 2016 Cactus Bowl.

“With the Seidman Research Institute, I’ve had the opportunity to analyze year after year some of the largest sporting events in the Valley,” Dr. Michael Mokwa, lead researcher for the project, said in the release.

“Since we last conducted the study nearly six years ago, a lot has changed, but one thing has remained constant: The Fiesta and Cactus Bowls still contribute an immense amount of visitors, visitor spending and overall economic impact to the region.”

(graph provided by Fiesta Bowl)

(graph provided by Fiesta Bowl)

The economic impact study was conducted by Arizona State University’s W.P. Carey School of Business in conjunction with the L. William Seidman Research Institute.

For more information about Fiesta Bowl and Cactus Bowl events, visit

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