TCU gets big sendoff for big game; watch party on tap at campus arena

On their way: TCU's Horned Frogs got a big sendoff for the natonal championship game. ((Photo by Glen E. Ellman/Fort Worth Fire Department)

Excited fans showed up on the TCU campus Friday morning to deliver a jubilant send off to the Horned Frogs as the football team embarked on its journey to California and first appearance in a national title game since 1938.

Adding to the excitement, the Fort Worth Fire Department brought two quint trucks to the rally to display a large TCU flag for the team buses to drive through as they departed the campus for DFW Airport and a charter flight to the West Coast.

As anticipation mounts, fans continue to scramble for tickets to Monday’s championship game. The hunt for tickets began just after the Horned Frogs defeated the Michigan Wolverines in the Fiesta Bowl on Dec. 31.

The Fiesta Bowl win advanced the Horned Frogs to their first College Football Playoff national championship game, after making history as the first Texas team to compete in the CFP since the program’s inception in 2014.

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The Horned Frogs will face the No. 1 ranked and reigning national champions, the Georgia Bulldogs, at 6:30 p.m. Monday at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California, home of the Los Angeles Rams.

“On behalf of Texas Christian University, I want to thank the Horned Frog community for being on this incredible journey with us,” TCU Chancellor Victor Boschini Jr. said in a statement. “Our football team represents the best of college athletics – their character, determination and grit are hard at work every day.“

TCU fans have been clamoring for tickets to the game as well as airline tickets and hotel accommodations since the Frogs defeated the Wolverines.

A full house is anticipated for the game but there were still verified resale tickets available on Ticketmaster on Friday starting at $375 per seat.

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About 10 luxury suites in the stadium were also still available on Friday, according to James Gilchrist, premium sales manager for the stadium. The available suites were in the $25,000 to $35,000 price range with the largest able to accommodate up to 30 people, he said.

“A lot of the inquiries now are coming from Fort Worth,” Gilchrist said. “The Georgia fans had a big jump on Fort Worth and began buying tickets weeks ago. The Fort Worth fans only got started a week ago.”

For fans who will attend the game in person, as well as those who are unable to, there are plenty of ways to cheer the team and watch the action. A free watch party will take place Monday in the Ed and Rae Schollmaier Arena on the TCU campus, where fans catch watch the game on the big screen. Doors will open at 5:30 p.m., an hour ahead of kickoff. Concession and merchandise stands will be open.

During the game, Crockett Row in Fort Worth’s West 7th area will host a free block party featuring food trucks, live music and entertainment and a live game broadcast of the game on 25-foot screens.

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In California, the Riff Ram Pep Rally will be held from 4-5 p.m. at the Santa Monica Pier. The free event will feature performances by TCU Spirit; the Voice of the Frogs, Brian Estridge; and other special guests.

Also in California, the championship tailgate party will be held from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. on Monday on the rooftop of the Hollywood Park Casino parking garage in Inglewood, close to the stadium. The event requires a ticket.

An economic impact study done for Los Angeles County estimates that hosting the championship game will result in an economic impact of between $155 million and $225 million due to visitor spending.

TCU and Fort Worth have also experienced significant economic benefits from the football team’s success. Among them, according to TCU officials:

  • Early decision applications are up 31 percent, with many student prospects indicating that TCU is their first choice.
  • TCU has generated 11 billion impressions and $2.1 billion in earned media
  • Visits to TCU have increased exponentially, especially on game days. Traffic on the day of the Fiesta Bowl was up 150 percent.
  • Visit Fort Worth recorded a 35 percent increase in hotel revenue and a 23 percent increase in visitor spending in Fort Worth on game days.

“TCU has put a national spotlight on Fort Worth once again with this incredible football season, Fiesta Bowl win and upcoming national championship game,” Mayor Mattie Parker said in a statement.

“TCU’s impact goes beyond athletics visibility and brings visitors to our city in droves,” she said. “In addition to the hometown team spirit, educational and academic leadership, TCU’s impact means jobs, economic development and innovation.”

Just for fun, some little-known facts about the Horned Frog (non-human variety), one of college athletics’ most unique mascots.

  • Legend has it that TCU adopted the Horned Frogs when an army of horned lizards (called frogs because they look more like frogs than lizards) swarmed the TCU football field during the school’s first game in 1896.
  • The horned lizards are able to shoot blood out of their eyes as a defense mechanism, with streams reaching up to five feet.
  • Horned lizards are an endangered species and TCU is working in collaboration with the Fort Worth Zoo and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to protect and rehabilitate them, releasing over 1,000 captive born lizards into the wild.
  • Horned frogs’ unique camouflage has been replicated and used by the U.S. military for desert camouflage.
  • Sporting companies, taking a page from horned frogs’ biological design (they can channel rainwater from their backs into their mouths), have made biometric clothing material to channel sweat to muscle groups that need to be cooled.