Last weekend Arizona sports fans were happy. The Arizona Diamondbacks won two games in a row. As it turns out, it was just delaying the inevitable ending to a disappointing season, topped with the hated Los Angeles Dodgers triumphantly cavorting in the Chase Field pool. As the Diamondbacks wind down, luckily, other sports are just heating up. Throughout the economic challenges the past few years, sports have been both a major contributor and a drain to Arizona’s economy.
Glendale is host to two Valley’s sports franchises. Fifty members of the non-profit Linking Sports & Communities LLC were at University of Phoenix Stadium on September 14 for the sold-out Arizona Cardinals’ opening day. Many first-time attendees were awed by the stadium, and pleasantly surprised when the Cardinals upset the Detroit Lions. Just over $300 million of public funds were used to construct the stadium. It is estimated that, annually, the Cardinals contribute $150 million and the Fiesta Bowl generates another $140 million. Additional games, like the BCS game and the Super Bowls, are bonuses.
The two NASCAR races at Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale also continue to pump hundreds of millions into Arizona.
On the other hand, Glendale business people were relieved last month, when IceArizona bought the Phoenix Coyotes, ending four years of limbo, which damaged attendance, existing and prospective business. The forty home games are critical to the survival of Westgate and other nearby developments. Fans can now confidently buy season tickets for the start of the Coyotes' season on October 3 against the New York Rangers. Unfortunately, the City continues to lose annually on its investment.
Fans hope the Phoenix Suns unveil a new winning attitude, as well as new uniforms, on September 30, when their NBA season starts. Phoenix Suns fans’ ire rose as the Suns’ fortunes sank since the 2009-10 playoffs. Nearby bars and restaurants suffered as enthusiasm and attendance waned throughout the winter seasons. But a new team, new management, and new logo lend hope to a franchise, which still has the NBA’s fourth highest winning percentage.
Unfortunately, not enough attention (attendance-wise) is paid to the most successful Valley franchises. The Rattlers just won their second National Championship in a row, and the Phoenix Mercury, who have already won two Championships, are in the playoffs.
Sports, but only if successfully managed and winning, will be important to the vitality of business in Phoenix.