The last 12 months in Tempe were filled with new projects that will benefit the region’s economy coming in, a successful season from the Arizona State University football team, the reimagining of ASU mascot Sparky, and even the completion of a triathlon by Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, making her the first member of Congress to do so in office. And all of that just scratches the surface of a busy year in the city.
Below is a list of a few high profile news stories that have defined Tempe in 2013.
• One of the most notable pieces of news that will have long-term repercussions on Tempe is the merger between US Airways and American Airlines. First announced in February, the $11 billion agreement between the two will create the largest airline in the world. The merger, however, was met with resistance from the federal government and six states — Arizona, Florida, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia — that filed a suit to block the merger in August, citing concerns about competition.
After four months of negotiations, the parties involved announced a settlement on Nov. 12 that requires the new airline to continue daily service out of Phoenix for the next three years and open up slots at other airports to open competition for low-cost carriers. The merger became official on Dec. 9.
• Tempe resident and Gateway Community College student Adrienne Salinas was on her way to see her boyfriend in Scottsdale in June when she went missing. The search to find her took two months and involved officials from the Tempe Police Department searching the bottom of Tempe Town Lake to find her body. Portions of her remains were discovered in Apache Junction on Aug. 6, and an ensuing autopsy by Pima County officials did not provide any clues as to her cause of death.
• Gov. Jan Brewer and several officials from Tempe announced the erection of a new $600 million facility located at on the banks of the Salt River on July 31. Called Marina Heights, the office complex will feature State Farm insurance, which will use the space to provide claims, customer service and sales support, as the major tenant. State Farm also announced it will add 800 workers in 2013.
• Another piece of economic development in Tempe was the announcement that USA Basketball will move from Colorado Springs to Tempe. The announcement, which came in July, also included the construction of a $350 million facility at the intersection of Mill Avenue and University Drive that will feature a 30,000 sq. foot convention center, a 330-room luxury hotel, 500 residential apartments and five full-size basketball courts. Once completed — the anticipated end of construction is 2015 — the facility will host more than 4,500 people at a time to watch the USA Basketball teams play, and the hope is to attract as many as 300,000 people a year.
• Tempe Town Lake will undergo a few changes of its own following a decision by the City Council to build a new dam. Approved at a Nov. 7 meeting, the city will build a $24 million steel dam at the west end in Phoenix and replace the previous dam that burst and caused lake water to flow down the Salt River bed in 2010. The expected completion date for the project is the end of 2015.
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