72°F
weather icon Partly Cloudy

Meet the woman behind the Las Vegas Bowl

Vegas Voices is a weekly series highlighting notable Las Vegans.

A storm hit town the other day. Melissa Meacham-Grossman scarcely noticed.

“I got here when it was dark, left when it was dark and then realized, ‘It must have rained,’ ” she says from her desk at her south valley office, betraying no signs of fatigue. “That’s where we’re at right now: long days. But it’s the best time of the year.”

And so it goes come December for the woman behind the Las Vegas Bowl.

As associate executive director for ESPN Events, Meacham-Grossman oversees operations, logistics and execution of the game.

A UNLV graduate who earned four varsity letters as a swimmer, Meacham-Grossman served as the university’s director of marketing from 1998 to 2005 before moving on to ESPN and the Las Vegas Bowl.

This year’s matchup is a promising one: a showdown between Fresno State and Arizona State ranked by CBSSports.com as the fifth-best matchup of the 39-game bowl slate.

And bigger things could be on the horizon: The game could move into the Raiders’ stadium once it opens in 2020.

But overseeing the Las Vegas Bowl is just one of the hats that the 44-year-old Meacham-Grossman wears.

She also handles the annual Wooden Legacy basketball tournament in Anaheim, California, the College Basketball Awards Show every April in Los Angeles and last year founded The Huddle, a Vegas-based group of local businesswomen who promote the Las Vegas Bowl and its goals.

Two days before this year’s bowl teams were announced, Meacham-Grossman took time from her hectic schedule to break down what it takes to get to kickoff and more.

Review-Journal: You’re in a somewhat unique position in that the Las Vegas Bowl takes place right at the beginning of the bowl schedule just two weeks after the end of the regular season. What are those two weeks like for you?

Meacham-Grossman: It’s crazy. We announce our teams on Sunday (after the regular season concludes) and we hit the ground running. The way it starts for us is that Monday-Tuesday the teams will come here and do a site visit. Then we’ll travel to their markets for a couple days, take a showgirl and Elvis with us to promote the city and Las Vegas. Then teams arrive (the following) Monday. It’s a busy 10 days.

The landscape of the bowl season has changed so much since the Las Vegas Bowl debuted 27 years ago. What goes into your thinking when you’re trying to distinguish this event from an increasingly crowded field?

Being the leader and being on day one is something we’re really proud of. Being on ABC to kick off bowl season is a position that we’ve enjoyed over the years, and we feel like we’ve set ourselves apart. We’ve had great matchups. We’re the 16th-oldest bowl game, so we’ve been around awhile.

Where does it all begin for you in terms of conceptualizing and putting on the event?

People say all the time, ‘You just work one day of the year.’ No, no, no. We start right away in January, recapping this year, and then our office is responsible for sponsorship sales and ticket sales, taking a look at that on a year-round basis here locally and nationally. By the time we get to April, we’re already in full-on planning. Then once football starts, we’re right back at it.

A decade ago, you ran the game from a hospital room after giving birth.

In 2008, I was obviously pregnant and had no intention of going into labor during bowl week. I planned to be here for the whole week. But you know how things happened. I ended up having an emergency C-section on the Tuesday of the arrival date of the teams, and it just so happened to be the year of the snowstorm that shut down the city. From an operations standpoint, it was a really hard thing for everyone. We weren’t ready for snow. I have a great team that works with me, and I stayed in contact with them. I did the best I could from a hospital room.

You were an athlete in college. Did you always fancy doing something in athletics?

No. My undergrad degree was in athletic training. I fully intended to go to medical school. I graduated and wanted to spend time studying for MCAT. I asked the athletic department if I could intern, just while I was coming off being an athlete, and they said, ‘Yeah, come into our corporate sales department and you can learn a few things.’ After one semester of doing that, I scrapped medical school and knew that my passion was going to be in events, particularly in sports.

What was the genesis of The Huddle?

We’ve had a Las Vegas Bowl committee since day one. Last year, we had 38 members, all leaders in the community who help with everything from sponsorship sales to being advisers to us. Looking at that over the last few years, I realized that there were only three women within the organization. So we spent a lot of time looking at the group we had there and realized that we needed to come up with a group for women, for business leaders on the female side of the market and a way for them to come and be involved in the game. So I decided to have The Huddle last year. I think we ended up with 20 people last year. Now we’re up to 30 women who have jumped in and really spent the entire year working to support the mission of the game.

Is there any one Las Vegas Bowl that stands out in particular to you?

The BYU-Utah year (2015). We sold out before we even announced our teams that year. BYU knew they were coming, and then we announced Utah. That was a really fun year. Their rivalry is so intense. There’s no better feeling than walking into a sold-out stadium.

Contact Jason Bracelin at jbracelin@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0476. Follow @JasonBracelin on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Entertainment Videos
Heavier traffic expected from EDC festival attendees
Electric Daisy Carnival attendees began to vacate the Las Vegas Motor Speedway starting before 5 a.m., the majority heading south on Interstate 15.
What it's like to skip the lines and fly by helicopter to EDC
What it's like to skip the lines and fly by helicopter to EDC. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
DJ Steve Aoki visits Las Vegas comic book store
DJ Steve Aoki visits Torpedo Comics in Las Vegas Friday, May 17, 2019, for a signing for his new comic book series "Neon Future." (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Las Vegas Smith & Wollensky opens at The Venetian
After 18 years, the Smith & Wollensky location on Las Vegas’ south Strip closed in 2017, to be re-born two years later with a rib-cutting — instead of a ribbon-cutting — in The Grand Canal Shoppes at The Venetian. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal)
Colin Cantwell, Creator Of Iconic Star Wars Ships Visits Vegas
Colin Cantwell, who created and designed such "Star Wars" ships as the X-Wing fighter, and Death Star, met fans at Rogue Toys in Las Vegas today. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Beauty & Essex in Las Vegas makes an EDC Wonder Wheel
In honor of the Electric Daisy Carnival, Beauty & Essex at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas makes its Wonder Wheel party-worthy. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Giada talks Vegas Uncork’d
Giada De Laurentiis talks during Aperitivo Hour, a Vegas Uncork'd event, at her Caesars Palace restaurant, Pronto, May 10, 2019. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Scenes from Vegas Uncork’d 2019 on the Las Vegas Strip
The 13th edition of Vegas Uncork’d by Bon Appetit brought four days of food, wine, celebrity chefs and parties to town, May 9-12. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Three ingredients Gordon Ramsay can’t live without
Bon Appetit's Andy Baraghani interviews the "Hell's Kitchen" chef during a Vegas Uncork'd event at Caesars Palace, May 11, 2019. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vegas Uncork’d launches wiith bubbles and a blade
Dozens of chefs representing some of the Strip’s top restaurants gathered Thursday at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas to launch the 2019 edition of Vegas Uncork’d by Bon Appetit. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bunky the Clown at the clown convention
Bob "Bunky the Clown" Gretton talks about his life as a clown and the Clown Convention which was in Las Vegas at Texas Station this week. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Frying soft-shell crab at Lola’s in Las Vegas
At Lola’s: A Louisiana Kitchen in Las Vegas, soft-shell crab is breaded and fried and served either as an appetizer, po’boy or platter. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
The Stove in Henderson makes Pecan Pie Pancakes
At The Stove in Henderson, chef/partner Antonio Nunez stacks buttermilk pancakes with pecans and dulce de leche and tops them pie crust crumbs. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vinnie Paul remembered at Count's Vamp'd
The late rocker's favorite table at one of his favorite clubs in Las Vegas. (Jason Bracelin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
4DX movie experience at Red Rock
4DX movie experience during a demo reel at Red Rock. (Christopher Lawrence/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
What To Do On May The 4th
There are plenty of events going on May the 4th this year around Las Vegas. Celebrate Star Wars and Comic Book Day all at once. The Rogue Toys, the 501st, Rebel Legion and Millennium Fandom Bar are all hosting fun events to help celebrate your geek-dom. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Water Sports Introduces New Attraction At Lake Las Vegas
Las Vegas Water Sports will debut its new aqua park attraction at Lake Las Vegas Days this weekend. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Making the Space Invader at Greene St. Kitchen in Las Vegas
Lysa Huerta, pastry cook at Greene St. Kitchen at the Palms in Las Vegas, starts with angel food cake, Fruity Pebbles ice cream and strawberry sorbet to create a space creature engulfed in flashing lights and swirling mists. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Pools
The M, Park MGM and NoMad are just a few great pools in Las Vegas. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Jose Andres explains Iberico pork
(Al Mancini/Las Vega Review-Journal)
Inside Life is Beautiful
Craig Asher Nyman explains how Life is Beautiful festival is booked and talks about this year's line-up. (Jason Bracelin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Tattoo'd America Pops Up In Vegas
Tattoo'd America, a new pop-up attraction on the Linq Promenade, had their grand opening Friday. The attraction is dedicate to the culture of tattoos. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Jose Andres gets key to the Strip
Chef Jose Andres was presented with a Key to the Las Vegas Strip and a proclamation declaring April 26 Jose Andres Day in Clark County by County Commissioner Tick Segerblom on Friday. The ceremony took place at his restaurant Bazaar Meat in the SLS Las Vegas. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sadelle’s in Las Vegas makes a grilled cheese with an inverted bagel
Michael Vargas, executive sous chef at Sadelle’s at Bellagio in Las Vegas, inverts an everything bagel and grills it with Swiss, cheddar and Muenster cheeses to make the Inverted Bagel Grilled Cheese. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Learn how to make China Poblano's Salt Air Margarita
Learn how to make China Poblano's Salt Air Margarita (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Tattoo'd America invites you to have fun and take pictures
Kassandra Lopez at Tattoo'd America invites you to have fun and take pictures. (Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Prime rib is carved tableside at Lawry’s The Prime Rib in Las Vegas
Dave Simmons, executive chef of Lawry’s The Prime in Las Vegas, which plans special cuts for National Prime Rib Day, demonstrates the restaurant’s service from rolling tableside carving carts. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Making gluten-free pizza at Good Pie in Las Vegas
Good Pie owner/pizzaiola Vincent Rotolo makes his gluten-free pizza.
Rockabilly fans enjoy Las Vegas weather poolside
Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekender runs Thursday, April 18th through Sunday, April 21st with a huge car show on Saturday featuring The Reverend Horton Heat, The Delta Bombers and The Coasters. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Brownie sundae at VegeNation in Las Vegas is completely vegan
Donald Lemperle, chef/owner of VegeNation in Las Vegas and nearby Henderson, NV, makes his sundae with ice cream made with coconut and almond milks, a brownie made with coconut flour and oil and organic sugar and cacao, and fresh fruit. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
THE LATEST
Fresno State defense rises again in Las Vegas Bowl

Fresno State’s defense initially was ignored for the part it played in the Bulldogs’ 31-20 victory over Arizona State before an announced crowd of 37,146 in Saturday’s Las Vegas Bowl at Sam Boyd Stadium.

 
Las Vegas Bowl’s future still on hold

The future of the Las Vegas Bowl remains uncertain as conferences throughout the country negotiate various postseason contracts. Arizona State plays No. 19 Fresno State in the bowl at 12:30 p.m. Saturday at Sam Boyd Stadium.

Fresno State should stop Arizona State in Las Vegas Bowl

Two opponents have scored more than 21 points on Fresno State this season: Toledo (in a 49-27 Fresno win) and Boise State (in a 24-17 Fresno loss).