Arizona will be a relatively new frontier for the two football teams and fan bases that will visit Greater Phoenix for the 2016 College Football Playoff National Championship.
Alabama Crimson Tide and Clemson Tigers have played more than 2,400 football games during their combined 242-year histories—but only one of those games took place on Arizona soil. That came in 15 years ago, when Alabama participated in the Fiesta Bowl in Tempe.
Since 1939, the Clemson Tigers have played in 37 bowl games. But they’ve never played a bowl game—or any game—in the Grand Canyon State.
That will change on Jan. 11, when No. 1 Clemson squares off against No. 2 Alabama in the 2016 CFP National Championship, which will kick off at 5 p.m. local time at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale.
While the big game will be played in Glendale, the majority of fan-centric activities will take place downtown Phoenix.
From Jan. 8-10, five city blocks in the heart of downtown Phoenix will transform into the Championship Campus presented by Ak-Chin Indian Community. The downtown campus will include an indoor fan festival and an outdoor concert series.
Playoff Fan Central, located inside the Phoenix Convention Center, will feature interactive games, exhibits, surprise guest appearances, and pep rallies featuring the Alabama and Clemson bands and cheerleaders. Tickets are $12 for adults and $7 for children, students and seniors.
Playoff Playlist Live! is a free three-day music series that will feature John Mellencamp, The Band Perry, Walk the Moon, Ciara, David Nail, Andy Grammar and Moon Taxi. Each night’s concert will be capped by fireworks.
According to the Arizona Organizing Committee, which is responsible for hosting the 2016 college football championship, more than 300,000 people are expected to attend the three days of activities at the Championship Fan Campus.
The CFP is the latest sports organization to bring its showcase event to Greater Phoenix. Last year Phoenix played host to the NFL’s Pro Bowl and Super Bowl, and in 2017 the city will be the site of the NCAA Men’s Final Four. No other city has hosted these mega sports events in consecutive years.
“People ask me why the College Football Playoff selected Greater Phoenix for the second championship game,” Bill Hancock, the executive director of the CFP, told a media gathering in Phoenix on Monday. “There are several reasons. You have everything. Infrastructure. Hotels. A wonderful stadium. A great airport. A great ground transportation system. There’s also the people. … These events don’t just happen on their own. You don’t just open the door, turn on the lights, and have a fantastic weekend for fans. It takes a lot of work.”