For Nova Home Loans Arizona Bowl founder and chairman Ali Farhang, describing the experience he endured trying to land the two programs his bowl committee had been targeting for over a week, took the very best of his abilities as one of Tucson’s most well known legal counselors. Farhang was forced to work the phones and make strategic texts in order to achieve the exact bowl game match up the Arizona Bowl committee was looking for. One team was locked in and had accepted Farhang’s invite. The other, took some very expressive and persuasive word selection, on Farhang’s part, to get TV executives and others to see things his way.
“It was really stressful at the end there. We’ve known for about a week the matchup that we wanted. We’ve been pushing very hard for it. Some other elements in the bowl game environment were trying to intercede and ruin what our dream matchup was. I’m glad at the very end we were able to get what we wanted which is a great matchup between Aggies. Utah State and New Mexico State.”
When pressed to explain what delayed the announcement in front of a standing room only crowd at Charro Steak (188 E Broadway Blvd), Farhang reached into his bag of lawyer speak language and continued, “What happened was that a certain network owns a majority of the bowl games. They kind of threw a wrench in it. New Mexico State is a great story. They were on Sports Center last night. In fact, I think we saw Scott Van Pelt almost started crying. But with the Mountain West teams, they’re all very highly touted and desired. So we had to fight at the very end to make sure we got the teams that we wanted.”
In describing the experience of having to wrangle Utah State away from those that would throw a wrench in the Arizona Bowl’s plans, Farhang said, “There’s not a lot of words that I can’t use on TV right now. I was very emphatic about our position on the matter. I made sure that the people who need to know, were aware of my feelings on it. I’m just glad that it was able to resonate with them.”
When AllSportsTucson.com asked Farhang what the athletic directors from Utah State and New Mexico State responses were to being invited to Tucson to play on December 29th at Arizona Stadium (3pm), he described an emotional and even a heavy reaction.
“It’s not an understatement to say that it was giddy. New Mexico State, I think the athletic director almost started crying. We’ve got people that flew down here from Las Cruces, Phoenix [for the announcement] and people connected with their program because they wanted so badly to be a part of our game. Utah State, all I heard in the background was a lot of hooting and hollering and people going crazy. I can’t wait to meet Coach Wells and the team. We’re going to have a high scoring, exciting game. It’s going to be really fun. Just, I can’t wait. Can’t wait!”
What perhaps many in Tucson don’t yet realize is something they ABSOLUTELY should know. What Farhang and his team, Nova Home Loans and their sponsors have put together is a bowl game unlike anything other in the history of college football. Every little bit of the proceeds generated by the Arizona Bowl goes to local area charities. The organizers of the bowl game were able to write a $250,000 check after selling 34,000 tickets in 2016. A sold out Arizona Stadium will allow Nova Home Loans to donate $1,000,000 to Tucson charities.
Growing drastically from 2015 when 20,000 tickets were sold, to the 34,000 in 2016, the Arizona Bowl certainly shows great signs of growth going into the 2017 event. It will be televised for the first time on live television on CBS Sports Network. Live concerts, block parties and tailgating, which were all a hit a year ago will be back on a bigger scale during bowl week this year. And the fact that the Arizona Wildcats did not wind up playing on the same day in the Sun Bowl, will allow the chance for organizers to maximize this years event to it’s full potential.
Farhang took a moment to tell us about his impression on that growth and potential to end the official bowl announcement festivities:
“I look around the room and I…I try not to reflect too much. I try to look through the windshield versus the rear view mirror. Still, it’s pretty amazing how far we’ve come in three years. My promise to our community and Tucson is this; We’re just getting started. Just think what we can accomplish in the next three years. We’re not anywhere near where we’re going to be. It’s going to be great for our community, it’s going to be a great portrayl of who we are. All the things that matter to us. This is important. I want to make sure that all Tucsonan’s know that THIS IS YOUR GAME. THIS IS OWNED BY YOU. It’s ALL ABOUT YOU. I can’t wait for you to come out to the game and enjoy your community.”