A jewel in the desert


Workers lay new turf over the turf used in Monday's Fiesta Bowl.

The Associated Press
Published: Wednesday, January 3, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 3, 2007 at 1:26 a.m.
PHOENIX, Ariz. - Two down, one to go.
That's the task still facing the Fiesta Bowl committee, faced with the unenviable task of putting on three bowl games in 11 days. Already, the 3,000 volunteers have seen their hard work pay off in an Insight Bowl game that saw the biggest comeback in bowl history and a Fiesta Bowl that people will be talking about for years.
Now, the big one - the BCS National Championship Game.
"The hardest part has been the transition," said the Fiesta Bowl's Mike Allen. "You've got one team and its fans checking out of a hotel the same day another team is checking in. But everything is going great."
It's difficult enough to put on one bowl game with all of its pageantry and team functions. But with the new BCS model and the Fiesta Bowl's taking over the Insight, the volunteers are stretched to their limits.
As a woman checking in media to the Camelback Resort said, "One game's over, you just take that shirt off and put on the next one."
It's more than just putting on the game, of course, as both teams have to be housed and entertained.
"We have 3,000 volunteers who are committed to putting on a first-class event," said Steve Wheeler, a chairman with the Fiesta Bowl. "We know how to do it and we have people who want to do it. In a sense, it's actually easier. We will be battle tested."
One of the issues that makes this even more difficult is the field. A November cold snap coupled with high school state championship games meant that a new field had to be installed at the stadium in Glendale for the Fiesta Bowl. Another layer of turf was rolled over the Fiesta Bowl turf on Tuesday just as the Florida team was landing at the Sky Harbor airport.
Usually, the field sits outside the stadium where it can receive plenty of sunlight, then it gets rolled in for games in a one-of-a-kind system. It takes about an hour to roll the new field in, but because extra seats were brought in for the two bowl games, the 12 million-pound tray is staying put this week.
The whole thing makes it a unique venue. And that's before you see the stadium. Built at a cost of $455 million, the University of Phoenix Stadium (naming rights went for $154 million over 20 years) looks like a giant space ship landed in the desert.
With wider concourses and extra bathrooms, the stadium is considered the best in the country.
All the people in the pale yellow jackets are hoping for is a game that rivals the first two.
Contact Pat Dooley at 374-5053 or dooleyp@gvillesun.com.

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