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Arizona Super Bowl chair reflects on NY, looks ahead at 2015 game

PHOENIX — January 2015 may sound like a long ways out, but the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee knows it’s going to arrive much quicker than it feels like.

Members of the committee, including Chairman David Rousseau, were in New York the past week to observe how one of the largest cities in the world handled the big game.

While the game had its well-documented ups and downs, including a possible clash with terrible weather, Rousseau said every experience gave him a chance to learn.

“The hand-off ceremony was kind of cool,” he said Thursday. “On the stage was our governor, (Jan) Brewer, accepting the ceremonial football that has their logo — the New York-New Jersey logo — on one side and our Arizona Host Committee logo on the other from Gov. (Chris) Christie and Gov. (Andrew) Cuomo, so that was a neat moment to be a part of.”

Rousseau was able to network with lots of people at a party that same night, where he learned some tricks of the Super Bowl trade that could be put to use in the Valley. One of those tricks? Effective transportation.

“(We) want to have a very intentional plan around transportation and doing that well and we’re going to have opportunities and flexibilities as a region, but there’s going to be that traversing the Valley that’s going to happen regardless.”

Given the spread of the Phoenix metro area, Rousseau said he and other committee members recognized that transportation is likely going to be one of the largest issues affecting the Glendale game, especially as New York and New Jersey were lambasted by the hold-up created in train stations.

Obviously, Phoenix has no extensive train service, but that doesn’t mean Rousseau didn’t take some ideas that could translate to the Valley.

“What they did extremely well is they created express bus lanes getting out to the stadium,” he said. “What could be an hour-plus commute from New York to Newark for the game was about a 15 to 20 minute ride. We actually got there early.”

The transportation is nice, but what about fans getting into the game? Rousseau said fans are going to have to be patient and seize chances to get tickets when they find them, as tickets are disbursed from sponsors, the competing teams and the National Football League.

“I know Arizona Cardinals season ticket holders are already in a lottery for tickets and then I think that hierarchy drops down from there,” he said. “I sat next to a guy in New York that had won his tickets for he and his son at a poker tournament the night before.”

Another logistical situation that Rousseau is looking at is the number of volunteers needed to serve crowds across the Phoenix metro area. He estimated that a minimum of 10,000 would be needed Valleywide.

“That’s a very realistic number based on the interests we’ve had and working with other partners, like the Fiesta Bowl and the Thunderbirds, who do a good job of staging major events as well.”

Those volunteers are already being hired via the Super Bowl Committee’s website. Work will vary, but some may volunteer alongside the sponsors who are bringing the game to the Valley, all of which are expected to live it up as the game gets closer.

He expects the build-up to the game to be a year-long process, with multiple events hosted by the multiple sponsors of the game.

“I think all of our sponsors that are going to help us raise the $30 million to serve as hosts, they each have ideas about how they’d like to tell their particular corporate story with the Super Bowl as backdrop,” said Rousseau.

The president of Salt River Project, Rousseau said he expects to see his company focus on economic development at its events.

“I would assume that SRP is going to do everything it can to encourage economic development,” he said. “That’s essentially how we grow.”

The opportunities for businesses are two-fold at the event: Between the 12-month lead-up to the game and the “legacy” after, there will be plenty of opportunities for businesses to market themselves to both the Valley and the nation.

“We’ll do that with the benefit of our media partners like (KTAR and Arizona Sports),” he said. “There’s no question it’s an attention-getter.”

And when it comes to the big game itself, Rousseau said he’s hoping for one team and one team only to make it: the hometown Arizona Cardinals.

“I think that would be a great situation,” he said. “Nothing would create momentum and enthusiasm in this town like the Cardinals having another successful season and I can’t think of a better finish for them to be in and win the Super Bowl.”