The announced plan to move of the Fiesta Bowl’s headquarters to Scottsdale’s tony Waterfront project certainly harkens us to a Scottsdale of old that rode in at full gallop, scooped up another city’s prize and carried it off into the sunset before anyone could ask, “Who was that masked town?”
Ask Phoenix about Scottsdale’s landing the Phoenix Open PGA golf tournament a decade and half ago.
Yet Scottsdale’s potential gain is Tempe’s loss, not so much of the headquarters, representing a few dozen employees, but prestige and — most of all — a Fiesta Bowl museum. Where else in the Valley should a museum dedicated to preserving and exhibiting the greatest moments in that sport be located than in its one city where big-time college football is played?
But Tempe fumbled the ball. City Councilman Ben Arredondo told the Tribune’s Kirsten Searer he was disappointed that his city’s staff was, as he put it, less aggressive in keeping the Fiesta’s headquarters.
Council members should have no one to blame but themselves. Months ago it was announced that the bowl’s current offices were in the path of a proposed light-rail right-of-way. At that very moment Tempe’s elected leaders should have been standing on the bowl’s welcome mat, finger in the doorbell, to help find it new Tempe offices.
Tempe’s interest is beyond mere nostalgia. For years, Tempe has been shopping for big names to occupy space around its Town Lake, efforts that, once successful, should lure others to build there. While Tempe failed to recognize how far that would have advanced this goal, the Fiesta Bowl went and got its own waterfront digs — at the Scottsdale Waterfront.
The bowl’s expected deal with Scottsdale is another indication that, for the foreseeable future, virtually everything about the Fiesta Bowl is set to remain in the East Valley — except one four-hour football game. The West Valley simply lacks infrastructure and amenities.
It will be several years, if that, before the West Valley has the kind of resorts and other attractions visiting football fans want and can find in abundance in Scottsdale and Tempe.
The Valley’s resorts are largely in Scottsdale. And that’s where a football museum where visitors from all across America can relive their home teams’ greatest moments will go.
It should have been in Tempe. But at least it’s not in Glendale.