NEWPORT BEACH – At a time of year when holiday tourists have normally packed up and left, Orange County will host teams and fans in Southern California for college football’s championship game the first week of January.

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Details began to emerge this week about a deal forged two years ago that will bring to Newport Beach hotels the teams, marching bands, alumni and news media for the final Bowl Championship Series game to be played in Pasadena. Newport Beach will be the host city for the BCS teams in January, which means big revenue and prestige for the city.

Newport Beach will be the host city for the BCS teams in January, which means big revenue and prestige for the city.

Money ball
What the Bowl Championship Series means to college football and the cities that host the five showcase games:

$1.2 billion. Economic impact from the five host cities for BCS games in 2010.

$412.4 million. Revenue for New Orleans and for Louisiana for hosting both the Sugar Bowl and the BCS Championship game in 2008, according to a study by the University of New Orleans.

$22 million. Net revenue for each of the 11 conferences participating in the series.

$6 million. Additional for conferences qualifying a second team.

Source: BCS

Newport Beach & Co., the city’s community marketing group that landed the deal, said business from the game will fill hotels to capacity from Jan. 2-7 and bring in $3 million to $6 million in tourism dollars.
For Newport Beach, this is bigger than Christmas or the Fourth of July.

“There isn’t really anything else I could compare to this,” said Vicki Higgins, chief marketing officer and senior vice president of Newport Beach & Co.

Newport Beach served as a host city for the BCS championship in 2010, which became the biggest event in city history. But officials expect an even larger tourism boost this time.

It’s the final year of the BCS as college football’s championship game. The city has formed a BCS Committee of hospitality-industry officials to help prepare for the crowd. Newport Beach & Co. has worked with Rose Bowl management in planning for two years, since finalizing the deal on Sept. 17, 2011.

Reservations are expected to hit 6,000 room-nights. A room-night is one hotel room booked for one night, a measure used by the tourism. That will fill the 2,500 hotel rooms in Newport Beach and an additional 393 rooms at Westin South Coast Plaza in neighboring Costa Mesa.

Those visitors will come at a time when Higgins said tourism season usually has ended after the December holidays.

The area is preparing to again become the base for news media, as it was in 2010, including ESPN broadcasts surrounding the game.

Fashion Island is more than 50 miles and an hour’s drive from the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. But that city couldn’t handle the crowds of the BCS title game, only five days after the 100th Rose Bowl game. Los Angeles, meanwhile, didn’t impress Rose Bowl organizers the way Newport Beach did.

“The Greater Los Angeles Area looked rather small by comparison,” Libby Wright, chairwoman of the Rose Bowl Management Committee, told supporters last week during a dinner in the Marriott Hotel & Spa at Fashion Island.

Higgins said Newport Beach has tried to project the image the rest of the world has of Southern California. “They wanted people coming here to have the full Southern California experience,” Higgins said. “I’m from Indiana, and when I first moved out here, I liked L.A. just fine, but it wasn’t what I expected. There was a lot of traffic.

I wanted to be closer to the beach. When I came to Newport Beach, I thought, ‘Now this is more like it.’ That’s what the Rose Bowl wanted to provide people. And you can get to Pasadena without really even going through L.A.”. Wright said teams that played in 2010 are still talking about Newport Beach. “To this day, we still have friends from Alabama and Texas who say to us, ‘Thank you for this wonderful experience,’” Wright said of the teams that played in 2010.

“And I would be remiss not to mention that Newport Beach calls on the weather gods to provide a picture-perfect forecast.”