City leaders map out strategy for NCAA College Football Playoff events downtown

Sam Jackson, Director of Operations for the Downtown Phoenix Partnership, shares insider information(insight) about the upcoming College Football Championship. (Briana Bradley/DD)
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Sam Jackson, Director of Operations for the Downtown Phoenix Partnership, shares insider information(insight) about the upcoming College Football Championship. (Briana Bradley/DD)
Samantha Jackson, director of operations for the Downtown Phoenix Partnership, spoke at Wednesday’s Evans Churchill Community Association meeting about the College Football Championship. (Briana Bradley/DD)

Community and city leaders discussed plans for downtown Phoenix for next month’s National Collegiate Athletic Association College Football Playoff at an Evans Churchill Community Association meeting Wednesday.

Even though the championship is to take place in Glendale at University of Phoenix Stadium, downtown Phoenix will be hosting the majority of the fan functions and activities with its large-scale venue known as Championship Campus.

Samantha Jackson, director of operations for Downtown Phoenix Partnership, said the Phoenix Convention Center will be hosting many of the College Football Playoff indoor events.

During the weekend of Jan. 8-10, the Convention Center will host events such as Playoff Fan Central, Media Day, the Party at the Playoff and the Northwestern Mutual Taste of the Championship.

Festival and sponsor activities as well as the Extra Yard for Teachers 5K Race will also take place outdoors near CityScape, the Collier Center and Talking Stick Resort Arena.

Jackson said one of the major events will be AT&T Playoff Playlist Live, which will be housed within “Block 23” of downtown Phoenix as a three-night concert series including artists such as David Nail, The Band Perry, Walk the Moon, Ciara, Moon Taxi, Andy Grammer and John Mellencamp.

“We’ve got that empty Block 23 and it is incredibly central, and our Convention Center is also one of the biggest convention centers, so we are able to host these really large exhibits,” Jackson said.

Jackson said the all-day events are expected to bring in anywhere from 300,000 to 500,000 people.

“The championship opens up at noon and it closes at midnight,” Jackson said.

She also mentioned some street closures that will begin Jan. 4 at 5 a.m. and end Jan. 14 by 5 a.m., including First and Second streets between Washington and Jefferson streets and Third Street between Washington and Monroe streets.

During the meeting, topics such as public safety and block watch, advocacy, development and transportation were also discussed.

A major topic of concern was transportation in terms of parking availability, which has always been an issue for downtown residents.

Local leaders are still working out the details of transportation and parking availability during the events of the NCAA Playoff weekend.

Matthew Taunton, board member of the Evans Churchill Community Association, introduced this concern as it was officially posed by District 7 Councilman Michael Nowakowski. Taunton said there will be a meeting concerning parking Dec. 15 at the Irish Cultural Center.

“Roosevelt Row Merchant Association is kind of leading this group to look at parking in the neighborhood,” Taunton said.

Dorina Bustamante, director of community engagement at Downtown Phoenix Inc. and member of the transportation subcommittee for the College Championship Playoff game, said transportation safety and “savvy” are two of the main goals for all members working in the downtown Phoenix community, whether police officers, Arizona Department of Transportation, Downtown Phoenix Inc. or the transportation committee itself.

Contact the reporter at brianna.bradley@asu.edu.

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