Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Orange Bowl representative talks bowl game logistics


FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – As the BCS national championship game inches closer, fans of both teams are able to see the pageantry and excitement surrounding the game. However, a lot of time and work has to go into the events surrounding the game behind the scenes. The Crimson White spoke with Larry Wahl, vice president of communications for the Orange Bowl committee, to discuss all the work that goes into putting on one of the biggest sporting events of the year.

Crimson White: What does it mean for the city of Miami to be able to host not one, but two of the biggest college football games of the year?

Larry Wahl: It’s a tremendous thing for the entire South Florida community. It’s not just Miami. We have a tri-county area: Palm Beach County, Briarwood County, Fort Lauderdale, which is where we are here. Last time we were double hosting, it was a $200 million economic impact. We anticipate it’ll be greater this time. You get a three or four hour commercial on TV, not to mention all the time SportsCenter’s on South Beach, it’s not just the economic impact. It’s also the media that you’re able to draw. You’re able to see South Florida. It’ll have future impact on tourists coming into the area.

CW: Does the Orange Bowl committee have anything to do with the events the teams get to attend, or is that set up by the schools?

LW: No, the Orange Bowl committee sets up the schedule of events. Once the teams are announced, they come into Florida, they do a site visit. They look at all the facilities; we go through the schedule with them. We make any tweaks that need to be, and they go at it from there.

CW: You also put on the Orange Bowl this year. Did that make planning the BCS National Championship Game easier to transition into, or harder because of the extra work?

LW: It makes it somewhat difficult, because the teams that come in for the Discover Orange Bowl, you want to make sure that they get championship treatment too. So you can’t ignore them knowing there’s an event coming up a week later. They have to get the same kind of treatment that the championship teams get. And in some cases, they get more because they actually have an extra day, and they have more events that are going on. But at the same time, you can go back after the game and look at what went right, what went wrong, and make some changes, do some things that adjust, make it better.

CW: In terms of logistics, what are some of the things that needed to be done for the BCS Championship Game, as well as the Orange Bowl?

LW: Well, there’s a multitude of logistics. I mean, you’ve got to transport the teams around town, wherever they’re going. You’ve got police escorts with that. You’ve got the hotels and the hotel meals. You’ve got the practice facilities that have to be arranged for. In addition to the team hotels, you’ve got a media hotel, you’ve got a guest hotel, you’ve got all those kinds of things that have to be coordinated with meals, down to every little detail.

CW: You mentioned there were a multitude of logistical things that needed to be taken care of. What are some of the more difficult things that most people wouldn’t normally think about?

LW: That’s a good question. One of the things for example, with the double hosting, you’ve got the orange bowl teams that’ll leave at 11 o’clock in the morning, and the championship teams come in about 4 o’clock. Same hotels. All the signage that goes into it, you want the people who were here for the first game to have a unique experience. For example, at Alabama’s hotel the first week all the signage was strictly for Northern Illinois. As soon as Northern Illinois’ buses departed, they turn over the signs. The hotels got to have people in there, changing the rooms over and you have to get down to every fine detail. If Northern Illinois’ plane has a mechanical issue, or they have to stay in town, we would have to plan something to do with them for those four or five hours. And that’s how it would have to go.

CW: Are these kinds of things the committee enjoys doing, or is it strictly business?

LW: That’s we exist for. And that’s what we’re known for, is our hospitality and being able to have those logistics and providing an excellent experience for not just the student-athletes, the media, the administration and the fans and everybody involved.

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