Both sides agree: Visiting is good, but winning Fiesta Bowl is better

by Jim Walsh – Jan. 2, 2012 11:35 PM
The Republic |

The parking lots at University of Phoenix Stadium were bathed in a sea of Oklahoma State orange and Stanford red, with smiling fans more than content to enjoy the warm sun and cold beer hours before the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl kickoff.

Fans of both teams, neither a consistent college-football powerhouse, insisted their trips would be worthwhile no matter who won the game, but a victory would make the trip home a lot more pleasant.

The game was a close thriller for both sides, with Oklahoma State prevailing over Stanford 41-38 in overtime.

“My husband and I are about the experience. It’s about creating memories,” said Shelly Gillan, a Stanford fan from the San Francisco Bay Area.

Kandace Taylor of Oklahoma City said she enjoyed spending New Year’s with relatives in Cave Creek and shopping in stores such as Urban Outfitters and Nordstrom Rack that are unavailable to her at home.

“It’s part going on vacation, part family reunion and part school pride,” Taylor said. “We will be happy either way, but it would be nice if we took home a win.”

For Oklahoma State fan Jacquelyn Forcum, the game was a lasting memory even before it started. Forcum married her husband, Rolla, a Marine Corps veteran, two weeks ago. The couple turned the trip into a honeymoon, driving more than 800 miles in a van from Oklahoma City to Glendale for the game. They were accompanied by Forcum’s new in-laws and other family.

The group stopped in Flagstaff and visited the Grand Canyon before heading down to the Valley to tailgate before the game.

Fiona O’Donnell-McCarthy of San Francisco, looked like a Stanford cheerleader as she attended a tailgate party. She was dressed in a vintage red Dollie outfit. The Stanford cheerleaders are known as the Dollies.

A former swimmer for Stanford, O’Donnell-McCarthy said she enjoyed coming back to the Valley again after making many trips here to swim in meets against Arizona State University.

“People often ask me if I was a Dollie. Sadly, I wasn’t. I was too busy with my head underwater,” she said.

Between the Cactus League and the Fiesta Bowl, the Valley’s extensive experience with major sports events is evident, she said.

“You guys know how to throw a sporting event,” O’Donnell-McCarthy said.

And her fellow Stanford fans, Wade Gupta and “Tino” Martino, know how to tailgate. The pair have their own website and take reservations to serve up a party atmosphere outside games. There was no velvet rope, however, surrounding their tricked-out van, dubbed Toby.

The 1996 Ford van has a beer spigot installed in the rear-left panel. A cooling system rigged by a fellow partner in the venture, an engineer, keeps the beer cold. They serve food and had a bottle of rum for those who enjoy a little stronger punch from their drinks.

A typical game might draw about 30 people, but Gupta was expecting 150 for the Fiesta Bowl. They also had a big screen television so they could watch the Rose Bowl.

College Football’s Biggest Party, the bowl’s official tailgating event, was heavily dominated by Oklahoma State fans, but that may have been misleading because Stanford alumni had a large party of their own.

Inside the stadium, the crowd appeared about equally divided between orange and Cardinal red.

Read more:

This entry was posted in Events, Tempe in the News. Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.