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Fiesta Bowl Names Erik Moses as Executive Director and CEO

Fiesta Bowl Names Erik Moses as Executive Director and CEO

He comes to Phoenix after a stint as president of Nashville Superspeedway.

The Fiesta Bowl’s leadership search is over. Erik Moses, most recently the president of Nashville Superspeedway, will serve as executive director and CEO, the bowl announced Tuesday. 

Moses’s background in sports is varied including 10 years spent as managing director of Events DC, which owns Nationals Park and RFK Memorial stadium in Washington, D.C. It was there that Moses experienced his first taste of the bowl industry overseeing the creation of the Military Bowl and the AT&T Nation’s Football Classic. A foray into football administration with the XFL in its second iteration was cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic when the league folded. Now he’s back in the sport presiding over one of its most storied postseason brands. 

“I just spent the last two years in Nashville having a fantastic experience, feeling as though I hit the ground running and people—not only the sport but the market—embraced me in a way that was really special,” Moses says. “So leaving that for anything made me kind of pause and think a little bit. Can I recreate that sense of belonging and that sense of community in Phoenix in the way I was able to in such a short time in Nashville? I posed that question to [Fiesta Bowl board chairman] Randy Norton, and to others on our board, and based on the conversations I’ve had with them, I’m confident that the answer to that is yes.”

Moses takes over from Mike Nealy who stepped down in April. Moses was in the rolodex of search firm TurnkeyZRG after being placed to run the DC Defenders with the XFL, and was picked from a pool of around 60 applicants thought of as qualified and fit to do the job. It was important to the Fiesta Bowl to cast a wide net and hires like Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff gave room for the search committee to gather candidates from many different fields including entertainment executives bucking the notion of the traditionally chummy and insular bowl industry. 

Moses will preside over the Fiesta Bowl as the whole sport enters into a new era of bowl arrangements. The College Football Playoff is expanding in 2026 at the latest, and where the expanded event will be played is one decision that will have to be made. As of now, it’s clear that Playoff management is leaning toward on-campus sites for at least the first round. That’s despite lobbying by the Bowl Season Football Bowl Association, there is some appetite among athletic directors to get quarterfinals on campus as well, according to reporting by The Athletic. ESPN reported the Rose Bowl is also still an obstacle to early expansion.

“In terms of semifinals and quarterfinals, we want to make certain that we’re there every year,” Moses says of the Fiesta Bowl’s place in the future. 

Even the very nature of bowl games has changed over the last few years, as top players choose to sit out more often to preserve NFL draft status and the makeup of some teams change as players enter the transfer portal. A semifinal game sells itself locally and nationally, but Moses’s challenge will also be keeping the game relevant in years when it is just another postseason game on the bowl calendar with matchups that may not have top billing. That can be done with increased investment in shoulder programs around the game like concerts and fanfests that make it a destination for the Phoenix community. This winter the community will have a CFP semifinal Fiesta Bowl, the PGA Tour’s WM Phoenix Open (now an elevated status event) and a Super Bowl in a 45-day stretch.

“We’ve got to stay on our toes looking at what’s around the corner, and that’s what Erik brings to the table along with our staff and along with our board,” Norton says. “We’re looking at how do we push the boundaries and engage throughout the lifecycle before during and after the game.”

This will be a different type of challenge for Moses, whose recent experiences have felt like “building the plane while it’s in the air.” He notably brought a Nascar Cup Series race to Nashville on a track that had been dormant. The Fiesta Bowl has a 50-year history which means preserving its history and leading the organization to innovate into the future is its mandate, rather than building something purely from the ground up.

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