Blog Archives

10 Downtown Phoenix holiday events

[Source: Downtown Phoenix Partnerships]


Valley Youth Theatre Presents A Winnie the Pooh Christmas Tail

The holidays are getting bigger Downtown. Just a few years ago, it would have been tough to name more than five big events for the holidays. This year, it was tough to narrow it down to 10 (download the entire holiday calendar here).

So, in semi-chronological order, here are 10 ideas to amp up your holiday cheer:

  1. Ice Skating in the Park – Wow. Our very own Lincoln Center. From now through Jan. 15, the plaza at CityScape will transform into an ice rink. The cost is $10 per person, including skate rentals and the rink is open daily 3-11 p.m.
  2. Valley Youth Theatre Presents A Winnie the Pooh Christmas Tail – Speaking as a lifelong Eeyore, get some tix for this holiday classic or that pesky raincloud might hang over your head. Dec. 3-23.
  3. Center Dance Ensemble Presents The Snow Queen – If you’ve got family from out of town, warm them up with this gorgeous retelling of a Hans Christian Andersen tale, set to music by Prokofiev. Herberger Theater, Dec. 4-19. Discounts available for students and seniors.
  4. Actors Theatre Company Presents A Christmas Carol Danger, Will Robinson: After 19 years, ATC is retiring this terrific musical. Herberger Theater, Dec. 4-24.
  5. Candlelight Messiah – Played in a candlelit setting (which is a pretty cool idea) the Phoenix Symphony Chorus performs Handel’s “Messiah.” St. Mary’s Basilica, Friday, Dec. 10 at 7:30 p.m.
  6. Ballet Arizona Presents Ib Andersen’s The Nutcracker – This one goes without saying. Ballet Arizona is a local treasure, so go and get swept away by this spectacular production. Symphony Hall, Dec. 10-26.
  7. Christmas Mariachi Festival – The world’s top mariachis and the amazing Ballet Folklorico come together for this annual event. US Airways Center, Dec. 11 at 7 p.m.
  8. Alice Cooper’s Christmas Pudding – For us locals, Alice is a bit of a hero; he’s done great things to boost his hometown. On Dec. 18, you can join Alice and his original band, along with Rob Zombie, Cheech Marin and more for a night of comedy and music to benefit Valley youth. 7 p.m., Comerica Theater (that’s the new name for the Dodge).
  9. Snow Day at the Children’s Museum of Phoenix – On Dec. 19, ten tons of snow will fall on the front lawn, with a visit from Frosty the Snowman. You know you want to go. Tickets are $9 each and include museum admission.
  10. The Salvation Army Christmas Dinner – A nice reminder about one of the best meanings of the season. These good folks can always use donations, food and volunteers. Dec. 25 at the Phoenix Convention Center. Doors open at 9:30 a.m.
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Downtown Phoenix welcomes start of Suns’ season

U.S. Airways Center in downtown Phoenix
Image by Steven Vance via Flickr

[Source: KTAR]

The Phoenix Suns‘ home opener against the Los Angeles Lakers Friday night was welcome news to downtown Phoenix business owners.

“Annually, we typically see over 2 million visitors a year for events at the US Airways Center,” said Eric Johnson with the city of Phoenix, adding that Suns’ games are a big part of that number.

“Basketball season is very important to Phoenix. It brings over 18,000 people per event to downtown. Not only does it bring them for that event, but they also come to have dinner, have lunch, visit our cultural activities and museums, see concerts and other such things.”

The new CityScape development is a huge downtown attraction, Johnson said.

“They’re going to be holding some grand opening concerts and events over the next couple of weeks to try to celebrate the grand opening of the project and the beginning of the Suns’ season.”

CityScape will host a block party, with a free concert by Macy Gray, next weekend.

Johnson said, “This is definitely one of the peak seasons. It helps that the weather is turning, so a lot more people want to come out and explore the city. We have a lot more activities for them to experience downtown. Every year, it gets a little bit better.”

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Lady Gaga is returning to downtown Phoenix

[Source: Phoenix Business Journal]

Photo Credit: Zandland on Picasa

Lady Gaga may not like Arizona’s hard-line immigration law but the pop star will be back in Phoenix in March. Lady Gaga will be at the US Airways Center in downtown Phoenix on March 26.

The singer, aka Stefani Germanotta, sold out a concert at the same venue this summer and bad mouthed Senate Bill 1070. Tickets to the March concert go on sale Saturday. The Phoenix date is part of a 2011 tour by the pop singer whose music is part Madonna, part David Bowie with hints of Queen and Blondie.

A few bands including Maroon 5 have boycotted Arizona over the law but others are still coming despite their ‘artistic’ opposition

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Arizona Rattlers show strong attendance after layoff

[Source: Phoenix Business Journal]

Photo credit: Jim Poulin/The Business Journal

The first season back for the Arena Football League is in the books and the Arizona Rattlers ranked 4th in attendance out of 15 teams.

The Rattlers averaged 10,800 fans per game this AFL season, according to Arena Fan Inc.

That’s fourth best behind a trio of Florida teams. The Tampa Bay Storm had the best attendance at 15,200 per game.

Scottsdale real estate investment exeutive Brett Bouchy is the managing partner of both the Rattlers and Predators. Both teams made the Arena league playoffs. The Spokane Shock won the Arena league title on Friday.

The Arena league was back this summer after taking a year off because of the down economy. The Rattlers play at US Airways Center in downtown Phoenix, which seats 16,100 for Arena ball.

The attendance for the Rattlers and the Florida teams is respectable considering the AFL was off for a year and the league is rebuilding its fan and sponsorship base. The AFL also did not have a lot of media exposure either in local market or nationally. Games were televised on the NFL Network and Rattlers games locally on KAZT-TV Channel 7.

Rattlers sponsors include the Phoenix New Times, Scottsdale Healthcare, NAPA Auto Parts and First Credit Union. The team is also in the midst of a season ticket sales push for next year.

Arena League attendance leaders:

  • Tampa Bay Shock: 15,200
  • Orlando Predators: 11,200
  • Jacksonville Sharks: 11,100
  • Arizona Rattlers: 10,800

Source: Arena Fan Inc.

Phoenix market attendance for current or most recent season:

  • Cardinals: 63,100, 99 percent full
  • Suns: 17,650, 96 percent full
  • Coyotes: 12,000, 69 percent full
  • Rattlers: 10,800, 67 percent full
  • Diamondbacks: 24,800, 51 percent full

Source: ESPN, Arena Fan Inc.

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Downtown Phoenix Journal Weekly Recap

[Source: Si Robins, Downtown Phoenix Journal] — I’ve been thinking about seeing beloved members of the Downtown community leave town recently, and it had me realizing the bonds that we create in our daily lives in Downtown Phoenix, whether they be direct or indirect. This weekend we celebrated Natalie Morris‘ departure at the Urban Grocery and Wine Bar with a food and wine affair that would make any neighborhood envious. While there, I realized how many of us see each other regularly in these parts, and it’s always disheartening when one of the flock leaves the nest.

The same was almost the case in this week’s Suns Spot post.  As trivial as it may seem, Suns fans have been entertained at US Airways Center by Amar’e Stoudemire for seven years.  When intense trade rumors reached a boiling point last week (despite 11th hour discussions, Stoudemire remained a Sun, to the delight of most Suns fans), Chris Coffel examined the mark Stoudemire’s entrepreneurship has impacted Phoenix and how it would change (with some hilarious would-be results). Luckily, we won’t be seeing Taylor Griffin’s OK BBQ anytime soon.

Proposed tax zones could benefit Phoenix Coyotes and Suns arenas

[Source: Mike Sunnucks, Phoenix Business Journal] — A measure put forward at the Arizona Legislature would allow the city of Glendale to create a special tax district to help the Phoenix Coyotes and Arena.  The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Jerry Weiers, R-Phoenix, also could allow the city of Phoenix to establish a similar tax zone around US Airways Center downtown, where the Phoenix Suns play.

House Bill 2193 would allow Arizona cities to create special tax districts around enclosed, city-owned sports arenas.  Sales tax revenue collected within two miles of those venues would be earmarked for use by the arenas and for public infrastructure within their zones.  The cities also could issue bonds against the money to finance projects and the sports complexes’ operations.

Weiers said earlier this week the bill is aimed at helping the Coyotes hockey team stay in the Valley.  The Coyotes are in Chapter 11 bankruptcy and have lost more than $300 million since moving to Arizona from Winnipeg in 1996.   The team currently is owned by the National Hockey League…

The bill would exclude University of Phoenix Stadium from a Glendale tax zone, Weiers said, because the measure limits the taxing districts to areas around enclosed arenas owned by Arizona cities.  That could allow a tax zone in downtown Phoenix, as US Airways Center is owned by the city of Phoenix.  But Chase Field and the Phoenix Convention Center would not be included in that tax zone.  [Note: Read the full article at Proposed tax zones could benefit Phoenix Coyotes and Suns arenas.]

Property tax exemptions may be next battle in Arizona subsidy war

Collier Center, downtown Phoenix (Photo: HooverDam, Skyscraper Forum)

[Source: Mike Sunnucks, Phoenix Business Journal] — The next shoe to drop in the legal fight over special tax breaks and subsidies for developers could be over the 100 percent tax exemptions ponied up for high-profile projects such as ASU SkySong in Scottsdale and enjoyed by professional sports teams.  That action could come after the Arizona Supreme Court decides whether a $97 million tax break for the CityNorth mixed-use development in northeast Phoenix is constitutional under state law.  A judgment in that case isn’t expected before the end of the year, but those opposed to developer subsidies already are strategizing for future battles.

The first is a lawsuit expected to be filed over government property lease excise taxes, or GPLETs.  These funding mechanisms allow government entities that own land to lease it back to private developers and businesses, which then pay lower-than-normal property taxes.  The Goldwater Institute and Arizona Sen. Ken Cheuvront, D-Phoenix, said they plan to file suit to do away with GPLETs.

Cheuvront wants to sue to try to stop the tax breaks.  Clint Bolick, attorney for the Goldwater Institute, said the conservative think tank also is looking at other tax arrangements to determine whether they are legal.  “We’re just beginning to burrow deeply into GPLETs,” Bolick said.  “To the extent that lease rates are below market after tax benefits are taken into consideration, it may represent an illegal subsidy, and also may violate equal protection of the law if similarly situated tenants are paying more in private buildings.”

As that case works its way through the courts, the same skeptics want to go after entities including SkySong, the Arizona Cardinals, the Phoenix Suns, and the Arizona Diamondbacks, which pay no property taxes because they lease their facilities from city or county governments.  None of those arrangements are considered GPLETs, though that mechanism has been used extensively for downtown Phoenix developments including the Colliers Center, Arizona Center, and Renaissance office towers.  The new Cancer Treatment Centers of America hospital in Goodyear also is a GPLET.

Real estate developers and business interests say striking down the CityNorth subsidy, GPLETs or other tax incentives would discourage investments and economic development.  [Note: Read the full article at Property tax exemptions may be next battle in Arizona subsidy war.]

The mayor (of Sacramento) speaks out about downtown Phoenix


Sacramento Mayor (and former Phoenix Suns player) Kevin Johnson

From an article in the Sacramento Press about the possibility of a new sports arena in downtown Sacramento… “[Mayor Kevin] Johnson also pointed to his time as an NBA player, which he said he doesn’t talk about a whole lot.  ‘I lived in Phoenix when there was no arena downtown, and I was also part of a team that helped bring an arena downtown,’ Johnson said.  ‘Phoenix was a ghost town, much worse than Sacramento.  If you go to downtown Phoenix now, it’s a whole new town because of the catalytic impact that the arena had [on] downtown.  I think the year was 1993; if you look at what has transpired over the last 16 years, [it proves] that [an arena] can galvanize a downtown community.'”

US Airways to cut 600 jobs, close downtown Phoenix ticket office

usairways[Source: USA Today] — US Airways announced Tuesday that it will cut 600 jobs this fall because of the economy.  The Tempe, Arizona-based airline will shutter its US Airways Club at the Las Vegas airport as well as the city ticket office in downtown Phoenix, Chief Operating Officer Robert Isom said in a memo to employees.  In addition, Isom said, the company will reduce staff at the Phoenix US Airways Club and outsource ramp service functions in nine stations, most of which support US Airways Express regional airlines.

Citing sluggish demand and a decline in revenue, Isom said that the airline shrank its flight schedule last year and improved operational efficiency and that the US Airways staff is too large for the reduced schedule and other changes.  He said that the airline had hoped attrition would ease the overstaffing problem but that the number of staff members leaving or retiring had fallen off since last year.  “We find ourselves with more employees than our operations requires,” he said.  [Note: Read the full article at US Airways to cut 600 jobs, close downtown Phoenix ticket office]

UOP Stadium outranks downtown Phoenix arenas in fan survey

2007_BCS_National_Championship.JPG[Source: Mike Sunnucks, Phoenix Business Journal] — The University of Phoenix Stadium outranks the region’s other pro sports venues, according to fan surveys conducted by ESPN and the University of Oregon. The ESPN magazine survey asked 5,000 fans nationwide their impressions of pro sports teams, owners, stadiums, and arenas.

The UOP Stadium in Glendale, home to the Arizona Cardinals, ranked 24th on the list.  The Arizona Diamondbacks’ Chase Field in downtown Phoenix came in 39th for stadium experience. Arena where the financially struggling Phoenix Coyotes play came in 72nd ahead of the Suns.  The Phoenix Suns’ US Airways Center ranked 88th among the 122 pro sports franchise stadiums and arenas. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]