GLENDALE, Ariz. - The 2021 PlayStation Fiesta Bowl will be played in January 2021 at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, but there won't be any fans allowed inside the venue, except the immediate family of team members, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The event normally attracts people from all across the country, also drumming up business for local restaurants and shops. Some people who have gone to fiesta bowls in the past say it won’t be the same, but they understanding the reasoning behind this decision.
"It’s sad all sports have to be that way. You can’t go wherever you want to go," said one fan. "We love sports. That was our thing. We have season tickets to the Diamondbacks, but we haven’t been to a single sporting event, so it’s pretty sad."
Officials with the Fiesta Bowl have released a statement about the decision not to allow fans inside, which reads, in part:
“These policies were designed to protect participants, staff, fans, media, and vendors while maintaining an entertaining fan experience.”
The game will still air on ESPN for people at home to watch.
Restaurant manager talks about impact
The decision to ban fans from attending the bowl in person will have an impact on businesses in the area.
"We were expecting, you know, after the game let’s grab a bite, check out Don Juan’s, but unfortunately, it’s not like that, you know, maybe they watch from home. Ee do take out, but it is not the same," said Cristal Rodriguez, who manages a Mexican restaurant that opened up amid the pandemic.
Some businesses, like the restaurant Rodriguez manages, count on holiday traffic, and 2020 has not been nearly as busy, and the decision by Fiesta Bowl officials is placing yet another strain on small shops.
"We do have to cut hours and kind of accommodate not as busy as it usually is," said Rodriguez.
The business, Rodriguez says, was banking on some extra foot traffic during the holidays, which didn’t come.
"We do see a bit of a decrease, you know, in the numbers of people," said Rodriguez.
Rodriguez says the local community has been as supportive as they can be, and during a year that’s been less than perfect, she says she remains grateful.
"Just thank you to everyone who supports not just Don Juan’s, but all small businesses. It’s all a big family, and I don’t know what we would do without the support of everyone."