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El Toro Bowl has 'wide ranging impact' on community
Last year's El Toro Bowl hit the “mother lode” by landing the National Junior College Athletic Association's championship game.
That was reflected in the game's impact on the community of “anywhere from $500,000 to $1 million, depending on who you talk to,” said Dave McDowell, bowl co-chairman for the event brought to Yuma through the Caballeros De Yuma, Arizona Western College and Matador Athletic Association. It was such a popular game that only 500 tickets were available for sale on game day.
This year's game will kick off at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Veterans Memorial Stadium, with the AWC Matadors facing off against the Nassau Community College Lions.
Whether this year's event will have the same impact remains to be seen, McDowell said, noting that the community where NCC is located in the heart of Long Island, N.Y., was severely impacted by Hurricane Sandy.
He said he expects from 100 to 125 people from the school to travel to Yuma, including team members, coaches and support staff.
“What we're not sure of is how many others will come,” McDowell said.
Online ticket sales so far this year are lagging behind 2011, he said. On the other hand, that means more tickets will be available game day.
And the weather is expected to be beautiful, he said. “We encourage people to come out and enjoy the game. It should be a great game.”
AWC is ranked 12th and Nassau is No. 6 and was a national contender until its last game of the season.
El Toro Bowl was brought back last year after a long absence as an effort to attract visitors and business to Yuma.
“It's not the scale of Midnight at the Oasis yet,” McDowell said. “But it still has a wide ranging impact.”
Many are here over the course of several days not only for the game but also the related activities.
One activity, the pre-bowl banquet, to be held at 6:30 p.m. today at the AWC 3C Building, is open to the public. For ticket information call the Caballeros office at 343-1715.
El Toro Bowl brings a lot of out-of-town people to Yuma, said Ken Rosevear, executive director of the Yuma County Chamber of Commerce.
They book a significant number of hotel rooms, eat in restaurants and rent cars, he said. “And I'm sure a fair amount of shopping goes on.”
And just perhaps once they've been to Yuma, they will want to come back, observed Ann Walker, spokeswoman for Yuma Visitors Bureau.
“You never know when someone comes to Yuma for something like this, they look around and decide to move their business here,” she said. “Or they come back for another visit. Once we get people here, they're pleasantly surprised and eager to return.”
Not all the benefits to the community are monetary.
As part of the activities leading up to Saturday's game, both teams will be visiting junior high schools in San Luis, Ariz., encouraging the students to stay in school and make the right choices for their future, McDowell said.
“Last year was such an exciting event. It's so fun to see the kids' eyes light up.”
Joyce Lobeck can be reached at email@example.com or 539-6853. Find her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/YSJoyceLobeck or on Twitter at @YSJoyceLobeck.