Due to restrictive travel, food and lodging costs, the Arizona band decided not to travel with their football team to the bowl game, according to director Jay Rees.
“When the band and athletic department originally looked into flying the Pride of Arizona to the bowl game, Rees said flights alone could cost upwards of $300,000, not to mention the cost of hotel and food for 250 band members,” reported Simone Del Rosario of Arizona’s KGUN9. “He said taking buses had its own challenges, like a 6-day round trip more than 1,100 miles away for a 2-day event.”
The University of Arizona (from Tucson) instead hired the 105-member NSU band (from Natchitoches, La.) and provided them with UA sweatshirts and hats, which they got to keep. One of the Arizona drum majors traveled to Louisiana to help the band rehearse UA’s fight song and alma mater several days in advance, according to the Arizona Daily Star.
NSU’s football team competes in the Division I Football Championship Series—their games are not usually televised and they are not eligible for bowl games—making this game a huge opportunity for band members.
“This is a really big deal for me and the band,” band member Jorge Alarcon told the Arizona Daily Star. “It’s definitely an experience I’ll never forget. Getting to play in a game that’s on ESPN between two big-time teams is really cool. I’m really happy we got the chance.”
The support must have worked, as UA beat their opponent, Boston College, 42-19.
UA paid for the NSU band’s expenses and time and provided “additional support for the band program,” according to KGUN9 & the NSU website. Before this, the Pride of Arizona had not missed a bowl game since the 1990 Aloha Bowl in Hawaii.