Come one, come all
Fiesta rooms aplenty --- if you're willing to travel for Y2K
Posted: Wednesday December 15, 1999 11:05 AM
TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) -- Add the Fiesta Bowl to the list of New
Year's events that aren't drawing hordes of celebrants as expected,
whether because of "Y2K bug" concerns or others.
The Pointe Hilton Resorts in Phoenix, which had been holding
1,800 room nights at the request of Fiesta Bowl officials, put
1,300 of them back on the market -- and at a $99 bargain basement
At the Sunburst Resort in Scottsdale, demand dropped from 400
rooms to 60 in two days, Darren Smith, general manager, told the
"We've seen a huge lack of interest," Smith said. "Everybody
seems to be experiencing at least some of this. The whole
millennium thing may be problematic to a lot of people."
On Dec. 5, when Fiesta Bowl officials announced Nebraska and
Tennessee for the Jan. 2 football match, local tourism leaders were
With area hotel occupancy rates already dismal and a growing
disinterest in New Year's travel, having two teams with tens of
thousands of loyal fans seemed a reason to celebrate.
But even fanatic football followers, it appears, are worried
about being away from home for the turn of the century, said
Richard Lawrence, Fiesta Bowl director of tour relations .
"We aren't even filling the officially designated [Fiesta Bowl]
hotels," Lawrence said. "I was shocked because both of those
teams travel well. But everybody I'm talking to is pointing to Y2K,
between people who don't want to travel and people whose
corporations won't let them travel."
Y2K can wield a double whammy, agreed Ken McKenzie, general
manager of the Tempe Mission Palms, located down the street from
Sun Devil Stadium where the game will be played.
Besides people who worry about possible failure of electronic
systems -- from traffic signals to airport runway lights, planes and
aviation control tower computers -- some companies are grounding key
employees as part of their own Y2K preparedness measures, he said.
Even corporate bigwigs may have to stay home in case their
companies need them, and they are the well-heeled alumni most
likely to follow their alma mater to a bowl game, said Ken Bruce,
of Dodds Athletic Tours.
"It's mostly employer driven," Bruce said. "A lot of our
regulars, who always come and want to come this year have been told
by their employers that they can't be away from Christmas until
after New Year's."
By Tuesday, one company phoned back and said that because of
weak fan response it didn't want any rooms after all. A second
called the same day, saying it only needed 60 instead of 100 rooms,
a figure raised to 80 later in the week.
The Pointe Resorts got the word Thursday that 70 percent of the
alumni for whom they were holding rooms wouldn't be coming -- a loss
of about $200,000.
"There is very little we can do to fill rooms at this late date
than drop our rates and hope there are still some last-minute
travelers out there," Hilton vice president Bob Brooks said in a
prepared statement. "If people call us now, they'll get one of the
best deals of the century."
Similarly, Tom Silverman, general manager of the Chaparral
Suites Hotels in Scottsdale, said he has booked only a handful of
"We have plenty of empty rooms," Silverman said. "I believe
that because of all that's been said about Y2K, people are just
more comfortable staying home."
Area hoteliers see this Fiesta Bowl as an anomaly, said Sherry
Henry, Fiesta Bowl board member and general manager of Tempe's
She pointed to some early signs that next year will be better,
including the 22 out-of-town bands that already have signed on.
This year only 14 are coming.
However, said Shawn Schoeffler, a Fiesta Bowl spokesman, the
stadium still will be filled. Each team has an obligation to sell
15,000 seats, and the 43,000 others are almost gone, he said.
Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
Copyright © 2000|
An AOL Time Warner Company.
All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.