7-on-7 with Julie Baker
Each year, the Football Bowl Association conducts its annual meeting of the bowl membership. It is a 3-day learning exchange, an opportunity to hear guest speakers from the worlds of college football, television and athletic administration. This year's meeting will take place April 18-20 in San Antonio, and much of the preparation for the event is directed by Valero Alamo bowl Vice President/Operations Julie Baker. Ms. Baker sat down with FBA Communications to discuss this year's planning and execution.
"Tourism is San Antonio’s top industry and what our city does best. After hosting the 2004 FBA at one of our resort properties, I’m glad the 2017 meeting will be downtown. We will be able to take advantage of all the recent improvements that made a good city center even better."
What is the first task you and the Valero Alamo Bowl staff had to do once you were awarded the meeting?
"April is one of the busiest months of year in San Antonio for convention and tourism business thanks to the weather and our annual Fiesta celebration. Thus, our number one priority was to get a hotel contract to make sure we had enough room to accommodate FBA’s needs."
What are the main duties that the bowl staff has in planning the annual meeting?
"Hotel logistics, catering, meeting planning, audio/visual needs, working with signage and credential vendors, transportation, staffing, off-site venues as well as our making sure we show off our city to all attendees is our focus."
Tell us a little about your background. When did you began working for the Alamo Bowl and what are your primary responsibilities?
"Born and bred in Texas. After graduating from the University of Texas, I was in the right place at the right time to work for the newly-opened Alamodome. Three years later I switched over to the Valero Alamo Bowl where I have now been for twenty years. My current responsibilities include Alamodome liaison, Pac-12 and Big 12 Team, Band, Spirit, Alumni contact, Hotel girl, HR, IT, Intern mom, Jack of all Trades and doer of all the random things we think of. It’s a fun industry that is always changing! Cliché but I am truly blessed to get to do something I really love with people I love."
What will first-time visitors like most about your host city?
"We have an incredible food scene in San Antonio. Lots of chef-owned, one-of-a-kind restaurants and bars. We hope you all have enough time to sample a few! To burn off some calories, pack your sneakers as the River Walk has recently expanded from three to fifteen miles long. We call it the World’s Biggest Lobby because you always run into someone you know when you are walking along its banks."
If you had one additional night in San Antonio, what should you do?
"Maybe you’ve heard of Fiesta, San Antonio’s 10-day party that was first started to honor the memory of the heroes of the Alamo and the Battle of San Jacinto. Now it’s a 10-day celebration that brings 3.5 million people to the city and an annual economic impact of $284 million. It starts April 20th…the last day of the FBA Annual Meeting. If you stay just one more night, here’s what you can do:
"On April 20th from 5:00 pm – 9:00 pm you can experience Tastes of Texas at the Fiesta Fiesta at Hemisfair event. Twelve chefs showcase culinary delights from the six regions in Texas. Then head over to the Fiesta Carnival and ride carnival rides till 11:00 pm. Fiesta lasts 10 days so check out their website www.fiesta-sa.org
If I’m a first time FBA Annual Meeting attendee how can I get the most out of my time?
"Network and participate in group discussions. I can’t emphasize enough for the new kids on the block to speak up. Don’t be afraid as we’ve all been in your shoes. We are a very inclusive group and are willing to share all our secrets if you just ask. The hotel will be full of folks who want to help you and want to see the bowl industry not only survive but thrive and be leaders in the sports world."