Since 1988, the bowl and its board of directors have been handing out free game tickets to state lawmakers and it recently informed legislators that those wishing to attend the Fiesta Bowl, the Insight Bowl or the BCS National Championship game will have to pay full price.
“The board decided this was the easiest way to do it,” said Andy Bagnato, a Fiesta Bowl spokesman.
Bagnato added that because of expected demand for the national championship game, the bowl’s board decided to “treat everyone the same” and charge for all tickets.
The Legislature’s top two leaders, House Speaker Kirk Adams, a Mesa Republican, and incoming Senate President Russell Pearce, a Mesa Republican, said they understand the change and that it isn’t a big deal to pay for tickets.
“It was always nice in the past, but it is what it is,” Adams said.
The Arizona Republic reports lawmakers were each offered the opportunity to buy tickets to each game the bowl hosts with prices ranging from $22 to $325.
The Fiesta Bowl, in its 40th year, faces scrutiny from within and outside the organization over how it operates in political circles to remain among the top four college football bowls in the country.
In the past year, the bowl has faced numerous challenges.
The state Attorney General’s Office this fall began a grand jury investigation regarding campaign contributions, according to several bowl sources.
The Republic reports the Fiesta Bowl has long made campaign contributions and given free tickets to politicians as a way to generate goodwill, although contributions during the 2010 cycle dropped significantly.