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Gila River Indian Community joins Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee

PHOENIX — On Thursday, the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee added momentum to their fundraising efforts when they announced a partnership with the Gila River Indian Community.

The announcement came in Chandler, Ariz., where Committee Chairman David Rousseau, Gila River Gov. Gregory Mendoza and Arizona Cardinals President Michael Bidwill, among others.

“We were excited to announce the partnership with the Gila River Indian Community and the Arizona Host Committee for Super Bowl XLIX, coming up in 2015,” Rousseau told KTAR. “And part of the announcement was that the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort will be home of the AFC team participant in the Super Bowl.”

The partnership was officially kicked off on a field, with former Cardinals players Kwamie Lassiter and Frank Sanders hosted a football clinic for 25 children of the Gila River Indian Community.

Rousseau believes his organization’s linking with the community will prove significant to their efforts in the coming months.

“Certainly as the host committee, (the partnership) adds one more significant partner to help get us closer to realizing our goal of raising $30 million to host the game, which is just a fraction of the overall expense of putting it on,” he went on.

And, of course, the benefits are mutual, he said.

“On the Gila River side, I would imagine they have several outcomes that they’re pursuing, many of which involve improved health, fitness, educational efforts around their community (that will be advanced by the partnership).

“It allows them to use the Super Bowl as a platform to engage their community and move the needle in a positive fashion on all of those fronts.”

The Cardinals, too, were more than happy with the partnership, due to their history with the community.

“The partnership between the Cardinals and Gila River Indian Community dates back to the opening of University of Phoenix Stadium in 2006,” Bidwill said. “Like us, they believed that it would be a game-changer not only for our team but the entire community. Super Bowl XLIX is another critically important event for our state and it’s no surprise that Gila River is stepping up to help provide the considerable community support required to make it a success.”

And the community itself spoke of its excitement to contribute to the efforts, in hopes of boosting the local economy and benefiting its neighbors.

“The Gila River Indian Community is thrilled to be a sponsor of the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee and to have the opportunity to help make the big game and all its associated events a success for Arizona. Our Community emphasizes partnership, economic opportunity and giving back to our neighbors in all we do and with every dollar we invest,” Mendoza said. “So do the NFL and the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee. That’s why we’re committed to joining forces and hosting quality events in association with the Super Bowl.”

The Gila River Indian Community is the second tribe to join the host committee. Their involvement, along with that of local businesses, has been of enormous importance to the committee’s efforts.

“We’re in a great position and we’ve enjoyed a great reception from the business community, which includes both the Gila River Indian Community and the Ak-Chin Indian Community, and so we’re excited about those partnerships,” Rousseau said.

“We also continue to be in an environment here in greater Phoenix that we’ve had the corporate partners step up and help us bring what will be the envy of a lot of metropolitan markets around the country.”

Super Bowl XLIX is scheduled for Feb. 1, 2015 at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz. Tampa, Fla. and Miami, Fla. were beat out by Arizona in the bidding process, which concluded in October of 2011. It will be the third to Super Bowl to be held in the state and the second at University of Phoenix Stadium.