Hispanics target of college football program

Bulldog football to court Hispanic fans
Fiesta Night will help kick off the '09 season.
By Daniel Lyght / The Fresno Bee, Jun. 02, 2009

Pat Hill is painting the Valley rojo this summer.

The Fresno State football coach announced Tuesday that he wants to celebrate contributions the Hispanic community has made to the Valley and his football program and also get that segment of the fan base more involved.

So in partnership with Hispanic businesses and media organizations, the Bulldogs will hold the inaugural Bulldog Football Fiesta Night for the Sept. 5 home opener against UC Davis.

Coach Pat Hill introduces Micah Alba, cornerbacks coach at Fresno State, who spoke in Spanish at a news conference Tuesday to reveal the Bulldogs' newest promotion, Fiesta Night.

"Today for the first time I can truly say I think we have a chance to truly paint the Valley red," Hill said excitedly.

He said he wants Fresno State to be to the national Hispanic community what Notre Dame is to Catholics.

"The Valley and its growth owe a lot to the Hispanic people who have made it their home," Hill said. "We are proud to bring attention to the many accomplishments of the great leaders of the Hispanic community. We are grateful to our many Hispanic fans."

The event will include a Hispanic band playing at Bulldog Boulevard before the game and booths to promote Hispanic heritage, associate athletic director Paul Ladwig said. The marching band will play a tribute to Hispanic heritage at halftime, and during the game video messages and public-address announcements will be in English and Spanish.

Hill said he has wanted to reach out to the Hispanic community for years.

With the economy down and football ticket sales as important as ever for the athletic department, there is no better time than the present to tap the largest demographic segment of Fresno County.

Ladwig said the department had met projections for ticket sales up to early June, but did not have specific numbers as of Tuesday afternoon. He said he expected 2,500 tickets to be bought specifically for Fiesta Night, but hopes fans will get a glimpse of what the university has to offer and return throughout this season and subsequent years.

"This is the beginning of what we want to build this into," Ladwig said of the event.

The reporter can be reached at dlyght@fresnobee.com or (559) 441-6400.

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