PHOENIX -- If Arizona voters are still wondering about the ramifications of narrowly rejecting a holiday honoring Martin Luther King Jr. in November, they will get a first-hand look Tuesday when the Fiesta Bowl is played on the campus of Arizona State University in Tempe.

A controversial referendum that would have made King's birthday a paid holiday for state employees was voted down on Nov. 6, setting in motion a damaging domino effect that began with National Football League Commissioner Paul Tagliabue saying he would recommend to league owners that they move the 1993 Super Bowl out of Phoenix. That will cost the state an estimated $200 million in revenue.

The Fiesta Bowl game, between 18th-ranked Alabama and No. 25 Louisville, is causing more immediate concern, and some anxiety.

On Saturday, the president-elect of the Maricopa County NAACP said he is "almost one-hundred percent certain" the civil rights organization will hold a large demonstration at the stadium on the day of the Fiesta Bowl.

"It will be completely peaceful," said the Rev. Oscar Tillman. "We don't want to hurt the Fiesta Bowl's cause, we just want to bring attention to the fact that Louisville and Alabama have ignored the oldest black organization in this city."

Sgt. Larry Angel, a spokesman for the Arizona State University Department of Public Safety, said he expects "a couple hundred demonstrators" at the game. There will be a special area set up on the southeast side of Sun Devil Stadium, and a contingent of about 50 policemen will handle handle security and crowd control in the area.

Said Phoenix Mayor Paul Johnson: "What we've tried to prepare for is making certain if there is a need for us to deal with crowd control then we're prepared for that."

Some Arizonans also are preparing to lose significant portions of their livelihood because of the King backlash.

The tourist industry already has been affected. The National League of Cities has canceled its 1991 convention, at an estimated cost of $7 million to local business. The General Convention of Episcopalians scheduled for next summer might follow suit, depending on a special meeting of the denomination's executive council on Jan. 5.

An Embassy Suites Resort in Scottsdale has "lost a few convention groups" because of the King vote, said owner Tom Silverman, president of the Scottsdale Chamber of Commerce.

"I understand some associations {will not come to Arizona} because of the insensitivity," he said. "But it's not completely fair. Everybody is nailing us. It's kind of in vogue now to beat up Arizona."

The NCAA already has turned down Arizona State's bid to host a portion of the 1994 men's basketball tournament, and the National Basketball Association says it will not hold any all-star games or league meetings in Arizona as long as there is no holiday honoring King.

The Fiesta Bowl also is suffering. The game is the centerpiece of a 60-event, month-long festival in the Phoenix area. The 1989 game, pairing Notre Dame and West Virginia, decided the national championship and generated more than $45 million.

This year is another story. The game is not particularly attractive, matching 7-4 Alabama and 9-1-1 Louisville in a contest with no national championship implications. Both schools were among the second tier invited after teams like Notre Dame and Virginia said they would turn down Fiesta bids because of concerns about the King holiday vote.

Mary Walton, owner of T-Shirts Plus, located a few blocks from the Fiesta Bowl, said she is "worried about the lost revenue in general." So is Dan Matthews, owner of Scottsdale Liquor in a shopping center near the stadium. He expects to lose $25,000 to $30,000 in business -- about 10 percent of his annual revenue -- over the next few months alone because fewer tourists will be coming to town.

"We're a convenience location," said Walton, whose store is a four-minute drive from the stadium. "Lots of tourists and bowl people stop here, but there won't be as many this time."Searching for Positives

While merchants fret about their losses, players from both teams, particularly black players, are having crises of conscience over their participation. Many say politics and football shouldn't mix. They defend their decision to play in the Fiesta Bowl, making the phrase "I just want to play football" a local cliche.

Only one player interviewed, a Louisville starter on offense who asked not to be identified, said he is beginning to have second thoughts about "playing in a state that won't honor a black man so great and special to me."

Others, like Alabama strong safety Stacy Harrison, who is black, have cut the initials "MLK" into their hair as a way to honor King. Players from both teams will wear black patches or armbands as a tribute to King.

Alabama and Louisville players said they will wrestle with their emotions until kickoff. The main difficulty for Louisville, players said, was that this was its first bowl bid since 1977 and only its third in 72 seasons of intercollegiate football.

As for the Crimson Tide, whose faculty senate recommended the school reject a Fiesta bid, the Fiesta Bowl is seen as a reward for bouncing back from an 0-3 start.

"It was a tough decision for me," said Alabama freshman running back Chris Anderson. "He was the man that brought us home. It's a black thing and I feel strongly about it. But I feel politics shouldn't be a part of playing football."

"It was pretty tough for all of the black players at first," said Louisville fullback Pete Bynm. "Then we sat down and thought about all the positive things that could come out of this. Then we thought of all the negative things that were already here and we decided to come.

"Basically, what it came down to is that the black players felt that Martin Luther King wouldn't have stayed in Louisville. He wouldn't have run away."

Still, the fact that black athletes have decided to play doesn't sit well with local and national civil rights leaders. They say the players are too young to remember the struggles of the 1960s civil rights movement. "I think that it's unfortunate that our education of these black kids has failed," Tillman said.

"I have no problem with them playing football, but they have to remember what enabled them to play. They would say, 'Let's forget the past.' You can't forget the past. The past is a part of us. Someone has to make stand."

The Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, a longtime civil rights leader, said: "The Louisville administration, {by} putting a black armband on, would have been like Rosa Parks putting a black armband on and going to the back of the bus. {Deciding to participate} was a total ethical concession.

"If Tagliabue and the National Football League -- who are in the game for commercial exploitation only -- can make a precedent-setting decision, the colleges had an even greater obligation to do it, since they are about academics and ethics, since they're about dignity over dollars."

With the Fiesta Bowl only hours away, the state of Arizona, as Mayor Johnson said, is busy taking a long and difficult look at itself, with the game serving as a mirror.

"Apprehensive is the first word I think of" to describe the state, said former Arizona State coach Dan Devine, a drug and alcohol counselor.

"People are worrying about the possibility of another black eye of some kind. Demonstrations are on people's minds. People aren't worried about peaceful demonstrations, but what if it becomes violent and the police are called in? They would have to stop violence with violence. People are scared about that."

No one is more scared than John Junker, the Fiesta Bowl's executive director. His office still gets about 75 phone calls and letters a day with opinions. "Either we're redneck racists for holding the game or we're kissing the butts of all the black people in the world," he said.

In a bid to save the bowl, officials decided to stage a halftime ceremony honoring King and promised to contribute $100,000 to each school for minority-student scholarships.Double Standards?

The backlash from the King vote also has hurt the Fiesta's finances. Junker anticipates losses of $700,000 over the next two years because of lost ticket sales and the defection of several corporate sponsors.

"The NBA, the NFL, the PGA and the state universities are holding athletic contests here every day of the week," Junker said. "Hey, I'm willing to stand up and take my punishment for wanting to do business in the state of Arizona. Why we've been singled out I don't know.

"The Philadelphia Eagles, whose owner {Norman Braman} made very strong statements about the issue, he {came} here on Saturday to play the Phoenix Cardinals and he's going to collect a paycheck. That's fine. But somewhere, someone has to tell me why that's okay for him and not okay for us."

Meanwhile, the debate on the King holiday continues. On Friday, former Arizona Gov. Evan Mecham, who in 1987 rescinded a King holiday proclaimed by predecessor Bruce Babbitt, fanned the flames again. "What blacks need are jobs, not another damn holiday," he said. "The only people trying to keep this alive are the media, the communists and the militants."

The King Day proposal was actually approved in Phoenix and other urban areas but defeated handily in rural counties of the state. A survey released on Nov. 13 by pollster Earl DeBerge of Behavior Research Center indicated that more than 60,000 voters shifted from supporting one holiday proposition and voted against it. The poll said many switched after pre-election network televison sports shows reported that the NFL would move the Super Bowl if the King holiday was rejected.

Proposition 302, one of the two holiday measuers, lost by only 17,000 votes after pre-election polls gave it a lead of more than 10 percentage points. The other measure, Prop 301, would have substituted a King holiday for Columbus Day.

"I know voters," said Johnson. "I know that sometimes they cast a vote to make a point. People wanted to show that the NFL wasn't going to tell them how to vote."

Devine agreed but added: "I'm a native and I know we have prejudice in this state. There are a lot of hard-line, anti-black feelings here. That's true. This MLK issue is something our children are going to have to deal with."

Tillman said that blaming the networks for influencing the vote is a "total copout."

"If your mind is so limited that one person can come on televison and change it, {CBS sportscaster} Greg Gumbel gave them a reason to change their minds," he said. "They had been looking for a reason anyway."

The NFL Super Bowl decision opened the protest floodgates, a decision that still angers Mayor Johnson. He, Sen. Dennis DeConcini and Gov. Rose Mofford met with Tagliabue in Washington in December.

"Mr. Tagliabue doesn't impress me," Johnson said. "Mr. Tagliabue isn't committed to Martin Luther King Day, he's committed to the economic issue. All he talked about in our meeting was money, and I don't have a problem with that. The problem is he hasn't told that to the rest of the world.

"I've read where he has said he's been getting a lot of racial hatred letters from Arizona and how he doesn't want his players subjected to that kind of environment. But with us, he talked money, not race."

Washington Post staff writer Bill Brubaker contributed to this story.