Fiesta Bowl and the future - East Valley Tribune: Opinion

Fiesta Bowl and the future

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Posted: Thursday, January 1, 2004 3:36 am

We welcome Ohio State Buckeyes and Kansas State Wildcats fans, whose universities’ football teams will meet Friday in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl in Tempe.

Things will change for the East Valley in a few years, when for the first time the 32-year-old Fiesta Bowl is played somewhere other than Sun Devil Stadium — in a new stadium among cotton fields in Glendale across this vast metropolitan area.

But things won’t change here as much as might be believed.

Developers plan branch locations of restaurants, bars and stores — a surprising number of which first emerged locally in Scottsdale and Tempe — to open in Glendale next to the stadium and a nearby hockey arena that opened this week.

Tempe especially will miss the hurly-burly of game day. Merchants who currently count on 75,000 fans passing by won’t have that traffic any more.

However — and we’ve observed this before — virtually everything about the Fiesta Bowl fans and locals have come to enjoy, except for about four hours of football and accompanying accoutrements, is staying right where it is here in the East Valley.

And the list of first-of-the-year events is growing. In addition to Tempe’s annual downtown New Year’s Eve block party, for example, Scottsdale inaugurated one of its own Wednesday intended to appeal to an over-25 crowd. Tens of thousands of revelers were expected at both.

Glendale isn’t Scottsdale, and you don’t become Scottsdale overnight — certainly not by opening five or six of its best-known national-chain resturants next to a stadium. Neither is it Tempe, whose Mill Avenue district took nearly 25 years to develop into the magnet for food, drink, shopping and nightlife.

Want proof? Go to Phoenix, where, yes, an enviable reanimation turned a nearly dead-and-buried downtown of 1990 into a lively entertainment district. But show up there when no athletic events are scheduled and you can nearly hear the crickets chirping in those restaurants and bars.

Glendale will benefit from its stadiums. The East Valley will miss the Tempe dateline in game stories carried in newspapers across the country.

But what the East Valley loses in prestige it retains in economic impact, an impact it should work to keep. Besides, you can’t pave streets, hire cops or more clerks at the City Hall counter with prestige alone.

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