Sports & Rec
DPJ’s Suns Spot blog series features a fan’s perspective of Phoenix’s first major league sports franchise.
What a difference a year makes. As the Suns entered the 2013-14 campaign, the prognosticators were all in agreement that they would finish at or near the bottom of the Western Conference with one of the worst records in the league.
Well, we all know how that turned out. They were the feel good story of the season, posting the league’s largest increase in wins from the previous year, and playing the fast paced, exciting basketball that Suns fans had grown accustomed to during the Nash, Barkley and KJ years. With 48 wins, they missed the playoffs by a single game in the brutal West.
As we enter the new season, those same experts are again predicting the Suns won’t make the playoffs and most have them winning fewer games. The focus seems to be on what the Suns don’t have, what they aren’t. “They are too small.” “They don’t have enough experience or depth in the front court.” “They will miss Channing Fry’s three point shooting on offense and his length on defense.” “Everyone had career years last year and no way will they all match that same production this season.” “They have too many guards, they won’t be able keep them all happy.” Blah blah blah.
This focus on the negative has national media missing the point (pun intended). There are several reasons to really like this team, and even expect them to be better this year.
- The coaching staff and most of the players have now gone through a second training camp together, working more on fine tuning the offensive and defensive philosophies than on teaching and learning.
- The team was 23 -11 when both Bledsoe and Dragic started, which, if projected over a full season, would’ve meant 55 wins and the number 4 seed last season. Expect them to be healthier this season and be even more comfortable in their second season together. They added to this strength by signing Isaiah Thomas, making their backcourt arguably the best and definitely the deepest in the league.
- Markieff Morris was the heir apparent to Channing Fry even before he left as a free agent. With increased minutes as a starter he will no doubt increase his production this season.
- The small forward position, which many consider a weak spot for the Suns, is actually very deep with each player displaying different, high level skills. Two of the team’s most productive players this preseason have been Marcus Morris and Gerald Green. Green is one of the most exciting and talented offensive players in the league, and Marcus Morris has shown great improvement both offensively and defensively. PJ Tucker can shut down three positions defensively and remains the heart and soul of the team. The best of them all may ultimately be rookie TJ Warren, who has shown an uncanny ability to score and has impressed with his defense as well.
- Last season was basically Miles Plumlee’s rookie season and with Alex Len’s injuries last season limiting him in camp and throughout the season, it could be argued this still is his rookie year. Expect both to make big leaps this year.
- This team has shown no signs of being comfortable with their improved standing last season. They remain hungry to improve and to prove all the experts wrong. The team chemistry that was so important to their success remains intact. They truly do seem to like each other and play for all the right reasons.
- Finally, this team is going to be FUN to watch. They will be one of the most exciting teams in the league and will likely lead again in fast break points and possibly total points this season. The various lineups Coach Hornacek can put on the floor will cause nightmares for opposing coaches.
As a Suns fan, I can’t wait to watch this team play this season. I hope you will join me in focusing on everything there is to like about this talented group. Fasten your seat belts, this is going to be quite a ride!
If You Go
Event: Phoenix Suns Home Opener
Date: Wednesday, October 29
Time: 7 p.m.
Where: US Airways Center, 201 E. Jefferson St.
Opening Night Promotion: 15,000 fans in attendance will receive a free Suns home opener t-shirt, courtesy of Coca-Cola and Fry’s Food Stores. Prior to tipoff, fans can enjoy music, face painting and a slam dunk competition. Limited tickets are still available and can be purchased at Suns.com.
David Krietor has served as CEO of the newly-formed Downtown Phoenix, Inc. (“DPI”) since April 8, 2013. In that time, he has begun work with community stakeholders to develop the downtown we want. “Your Downtown” shares his thoughts and DPI’s progress with the downtown community and beyond. Read the other chats here.
Admit it. You sometimes spell Phoenix wrong. Pheonix. Phoneix. Even the City of Phoenix does too. But it’s going to be pretty hard – and heavy – to make edits on several misspelled cast iron manhole covers spotted by eagle-eyed downtowners. From here on out, as you read this update on downtown Phoenix goings-on, be assured that spell-check is on.
While there continues to be concern about the regional and state economy, downtown projects continue to move forward. Here’s the latest news on several notable downtown and midtown projects in the works: Central Station (Central & Van Buren), Lennar Multifamily Communities (Central & McDowell), and several Phoenix Convention Center-managed spaces, including the former Matador restaurant (1st St. & Adams).
A noted local attorney has contributed $10 million to help build Arizona State University’s new Arizona Center for Law and Society, including the future home of the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, in downtown Phoenix. The contribution from Leo and Annette Beus is the largest single donation ever to the law school.
Last spring, Professor Lauren Allsopp and 16 graduate students from ASU’s School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning set out to create a reactivation plan for downtown’s historic, yet endangered, Warehouse District. The students’ work is summarized here.
Grand Canyon University is housing nearly 200 upperclass students at Roosevelt Point Apartments (3rd St. & Roosevelt) due to a shortage of onsite housing at the university’s 35th Ave. & Camelback campus. Last year, Roosevelt Point housed some GCU students, but on a much smaller scale.
On September 27 (before the rains came), a group of young downtown advocates organized and staged “Better Block PHX” on the block between Pierce and Garfield to demonstrate how existing “dead zones” (e.g., empty lots, vacant storefronts, asphalt parking lots) can be transformed into lively streetscapes, marketplaces, and community hubs.
On September 18, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration changed the west outbound flight path for planes departing from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. The change directs planes to turn at a lower altitude between early afternoon and 2 a.m. over Lower Grand Avenue, rather than a more westerly and higher turn. The public in general and residents of the affected residential neighborhoods specifically were not made aware of the change, resulting in more than 240 noise questions or complaints in two weeks. In comparison, airport officials received 221 such complaints in all of 2013. The FAA and city officials will hold a community meeting on October 16 to discuss the noise complaints and rationale for the change.
City and economic development leaders are touting Phoenix to host one of three NCAA Basketball Final Fours in 2017, 2019, or 2020. Downtown Phoenix is key to the Final Four bid package because of the number of hotel rooms and the Phoenix Convention Center, which would be the site of the National Association of Basketball Coaches convention and the “Bracket Town” fanfest event. This is another great example of the working partnership that has emerged between the Phoenix CVB, Phoenix Convention Center and DPI.
My colleague Dan Klocke with the Downtown Phoenix Community Development Corp. noted in a Downtown Devil article that this summer’s retail outlook in downtown was on par with, if not better than, previous years. “We’ve seen a few more restaurants open up and a couple more coming, and we see hotel occupancy levels climbing in the first six months of the year compared to last year, so that’s good.”
Some of the businesses that recently announced their intent to open downtown include GrabbaGreen (CityScape) and Sutra Yoga (2nd St. & Portland). Unfortunately we did lose one, The Local restaurant (3rd St. & Roosevelt) after a six month run.
Last month, the City of Phoenix won a $1.6 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery federal grant to extend light rail from downtown Phoenix to Baseline Road. Thousands of residents of south Phoenix will reap the benefits of a stronger public transportation system that increases their mobility to other parts of the Valley. This is a big deal and one more important contribution by retiring Representative Ed Pastor.
Seed Spot, the non-profit social entrepreneurial incubator, hosted Maria Contreras-Sweet, administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration. Upon touring the Seed Spot office at Central and Thomas, Contreras-Sweet commended founder Courtney Klein on the group’s achievements, noting “I love the feel. It feels so organic.”
Co+Hoots, a coworking space in downtown Phoenix, has been ranked #8 on a list of the top 75 coworking spaces in the U.S. Symmetry50, a national bookkeeping service for small businesses, compiles the list. Founder Jenny Poon and Co+Hoots Foundation leader Kristin Romaine serve on the DPI Community Advisory Panel.
On the 25th anniversary of the founding of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council, Barry Broome and Ioanna Morfessis, respectively the current and past CEOs of GPEC, wrote this Arizona Republic op-ed and noted that downtown is all about what metro Phoenix could be: diversity, creativity, education, and entrepreneurship.
News for a Health, Fitness & Safety Checkup
DPI, Downtown Phoenix Journal, PCA and the Phoenix Suns invite you to attend our third Radiate PHX business and community networking event on Tuesday, October 21 from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Verve Lounge at US Airways Center. Topics include updates on sports and fitness initiatives such as “FitPHX” and “Meet Me Downtown,” plus a preview of the Suns basketball season. Guest speakers include Councilman Daniel Valenzuela, chair of the Downtown, Aviation, and Redevelopment Committee; Suns President Jason Rowley; and Ralph Marchetta, vice president of ticket operations and general manager of sports and entertainment services for US Airways Center.
The urban bicycle advocacy group, Phoenix Spokes People, has organized a series of events and activities in “Biketober” to promote the cause of cycling in metro Phoenix.
Thanks to the Arizona Cardinals, Super Bowl Host Committee, and NFL Foundation, the high school football field at the Arizona State University Preparatory Academy received much needed new sod, paint, and scoreboard. ASU Prep, a K-12 school at 7th St. & Fillmore, sits on the site of Montgomery Stadium. The then, 22,000-seat stadium was the largest in Arizona and one of the largest high school arenas in the country.
Students from Phoenix Union Bioscience High School gathered with members of the downtown Phoenix community on September 27 to build a community learning garden as part of the third annual Green Apple Service Day.
On October 4, an estimated 1,500 Garfield neighborhood residents – young, old, and in-between – participated in one of the city’s largest “Getting Arizonans Involved In Neighborhoods” (GAIN) events. Garfield’s unique social mixer and health fair, GAIN-FIESTA, was sponsored by numerous corporate, nonprofit, and educational groups, and organized by dozens of volunteers.
Fall-ing for the Arts
Goodbye summer heat, hello fall not-as-hot weather. What fall also brings is a jam-packed schedule of arts and culture events and activities throughout downtown Phoenix. October’s First Friday was as popular as ever, as evidenced by the 1,000-plus riders on the Artlink Trolley. Large crowds enjoyed Chaos Theory 15 and new this month was the AZ365 pop-up gallery on Roosevelt Row, sponsored by the Arizona Republic and Artlink.
Congratulations to the ASU International Artist Residency Program, located at Combine Studios in downtown Phoenix, for being awarded a $144,000 grant from The Institute of Museum and Library Services to commission three new artists from across the globe to develop art projects that engage the public, such as exhibits, lectures, performances, and publications. Greg Esser, director of the program, is a superstar.
Congratulations also to the Ground Cover Public Art Project, sponsored by the City of Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture and situated on a vacant lot in downtown Phoenix, for receiving a first place award in Arizona Forward’s 34th Annual Environmental Excellence Awards.
Phoenix was one of more than 300 cities chosen to participate in a 10-day global film festival late last month and early this month. The Manhattan Short Film Festival is an annual showing of international, independently produced short films. Ten finalists were selected by an international panel of experts.
Let’s note the life and passing of Patrick Anthony Lawlor, age 94, the last of the core group to build a place for Arizona’s Irish families to gather, the Irish Cultural Center at Margaret T. Hance Park. According to Mary Moriarty, the Center’s operations manager, Patrick was the patriarch of the local Irish community, having been involved in its formation for 60 years. “Plus he was the gentlest and nicest little man you would ever want to meet.”
DPJ’s Wire series delivers news and information straight from the source without translation.
Yogis rejoice! Phoenix’s hippest yoga destination announces they will be opening a second location in the downtown Roosevelt neighborhood next year. The originators of Rooftop Yoga, Yoga in the Park, and YogaVin will be bringing their signature programming of Vinyasa Yoga, Skullpt Fit Conditioning, Skullpt Barre, and Mum Deva Prenatal to their second community location located on 1st Street and Portland.
Following suit with the Sutra Midtown location, owners Matthew & Rebecca Fritz, in collaboration with the new Lux Commonwealth and County, will repurpose an abandoned building for Sutra Downtown to bring their unique style of fitness, culture, and creativity to the masses with a style they lovingly refer to as deco-punk.
“We are thrilled to be bringing our same level of quality classes, events, and community service to another vibrant Phoenix neighborhood. Grand opening dates are still up in the air, but we hope to be rockin’ Roosevelt by early next year!”
Featured image courtesy of Sutra
The Downtown Phoenix, Inc. (DPI) team received excellent feedback at our quarterly Board of Directors meeting earlier this week. In addition to a comprehensive overview of new development initiatives, we focused on events, membership, establishing our brand, and our work with Roosevelt Row and Evans Churchill to investigate the feasibility of creating a business improvement district. Our economic development partner, the Downtown Phoenix Community Development Corporation (CDC), has joined the Downtown Phoenix Partnership (DPP) in agreeing to a January 1, 2015 consolidation date. We continue to work with the Phoenix Community Alliance (PCA) on a similar arrangement.
Having our business, city, and community leadership at the same table focused on the future of downtown bodes well for the future.
Doing Our Best
USA Today named the Roosevelt Row Arts District one of the top ten best arts districts in the nation. Last year Roosevelt Row was spotlighted, again by USA Today, as one of the ten best neighborhoods that tourists haven’t found yet.
Bleacher Report named Phoenix the 13th best city (out of 25) to be a sports fan. Rankings were based on number of teams and events, success of teams in last five years, stadiums, fan passion, general fan experience, media, star power, and tradition and history.
Our Bleacher Report ranking should go up a few notches as the Phoenix Mercury completed a three-game sweep of the Chicago Sky on Sunday to win the third WNBA championship in team history. They join the Arizona Rattlers who, a few weeks earlier, won their Arena Football League championship against the Cleveland Gladiators.
Earlier this month, government, business, and civic leaders hosted representatives from the Democratic National Committee in town to evaluate Phoenix as the site of the 2016 Democratic National Convention. Phoenix was the fifth and final stop for convention planners. Other cities being considered are Birmingham, AL; Columbus, OH; New York City; and Philadelphia, PA. According to Mayor Stanton, “I am confident that when the DNC leadership leaves here, they will leave with an understanding that, logistically, there is no better place than Phoenix.”
What’s Brewing Downtown
Downtown Phoenix welcomes a new brewery. On September 15, Mother Bunch Brewing opened in the 1926 J.B. Bayless Grocery building at Seventh Street and Garfield. Until it offers its own signature beers in a few weeks, Mother Bunch will make available a variety of Arizona beers through its 20 taps along with a “sophisticated, but not complicated” lunch and dinner menu.
Local First Arizona has released the fifth edition of its Phoenix Small Wonders map, a pocket-sized guide featuring nearly sixty local restaurants, pubs, galleries, boutiques, venues, and experiences located in central Phoenix. All of the businesses included in the guide are independently owned and operated.
The City of Phoenix received a $1.6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation to evaluate the planning, environmental, and conceptual engineering to extend Metro light rail down Central Avenue from Jefferson to Baseline Road. According to Mayor Greg Stanton, “Getting light rail to South Mountain is one of my personal priorities. I want to bring the same flexible transit options to the area as others in the city experience with Metro.”
The City of Phoenix has selected Chicago-based Smithfield Properties to develop a mixed-used project on the northwest corner of Central Avenue and Van Buren, the current site of the Central Station transit facility. Smithfield proposes a 476-apartment, 390-foot building that would be one of the tallest buildings in Arizona. A parking garage also would be built as part of the new development. Metro light rail trains and Valley Metro buses still will run through the station.
New City Church will be moving into a 18,000 square foot building at 1300 North Central Avenue for more space and a central location near the Roosevelt Row Arts District. According to Pastor Brian Kruckenberg, “We love being on the ‘front porch’ of the city and are ecstatic about the growth and attention that the city’s center is getting.”
New apartments and condominiums have sprung up or are being planned in and around downtown Phoenix. That’s a positive trend. But stalwarts of downtown living are the residents of Phoenix’s historic districts who remained while others fled to the suburbs in the 50s or purchased, renovated, and brought back to life vintage homes since then. The Arizona Republic has begun to profile these neighborhoods in word and photo: Country Club Park, Del Norte Place, East Evergreen, Encanto Palmcroft, F.Q. Story, Fairview Place, La Hacienda, Margarita Place, North Encanto, North Garfield, Roosevelt, Windsor Square, Woodland, and Woodlea.
Our Creative Arts
The second RadiatePHX business and community networking event, sponsored by DPI and Downtown Phoenix Journal, was held at the ASU Step Gallery in the Warehouse District on Tuesday. The theme and conversation focused on the importance of the arts community, cultural engagement, and the work of our local creatives to help transform and improve our downtown. Guest speakers in front of a packed audience included Councilwoman Kate Gallego and Steven Tepper, the new Dean of the ASU Herberger Institute of Design and the Arts. We appreciated the strong participation of PCA members at this event.
Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication in downtown Phoenix is opening the doors of its New Media Innovation Lab to the public, offering expert advice and support on entrepreneurial and technological endeavors.
Two members of the DPI Board of Directors were just highlighted in the press, partly due to their involvement with the arts: Ken Van Winkle, managing partner with Lewis, Roca, Rothgerber, most recently chaired Ballet Arizona’s successful campaign to create their new facility at 29th Street and Washington. Tim Eigo, editor of Arizona Attorney magazine, serves as steering committee chair of Downtown Voices Coalition and recent host of Space 55’s first PHIL Talk (Phoenix Has Ideas LIVE), a comical parody of TED Talks. In addition, Dr. Carol Poore, chair of PCA’s Arts, Culture, and Public Life Committee, wrote a compelling op-ed in the Arizona Republic about how science, technology, engineering, math, and the arts are all vital to attracting businesses and retaining skilled workers in cities and towns throughout our state.
Amanda LaCasse, one of the 106,800 college students who live in Phoenix – and more specifically downtown Phoenix – shared her opinion about growing up and now furthering her education here: “The gems I have grown to love are not hidden – they are plain and simple, out in the open. Anyone can find a spot to feel at home in downtown Phoenix if they spend enough time getting to know the area, and nobody should be afraid of it. It offers the same services as any other part of the city, but with a more authentic attitude and honest, personable interactions with people who love you for who you are.”
DPJ’s Wire series delivers news and information straight from the source without translation.
FITPHX / UA COLLEGE OF MEDICINE-PHOENIX CELEBRATING WALKPHX AND HEALTH EDUCATION PROGRAM AT FIRST WILDCAT NIGHT @ VERDE PARK
FitPHX and the University of Arizona College of Medicine-Phoenix are announcing a new partnership at a Phoenix park just a short walk from the medical school campus. From 5 to 7 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 25, the first Wildcat Night @ Verde Park will launch a new tradition in the Garfield Neighborhood. Verde Park is at 916 E. Van Buren St.
Councilman Daniel T. Valenzuela, Olympic Gold Medalist and FitPHX Champion Misty Hyman, UA College of Medicine-Phoenix leaders and Garfield community kids and adults will join together for the first WalkPHX walk at the park. Also, UA medical students are launching a monthly event, teaching youth about a variety of age-appropriate health-related topics.
“Medical students working with kids in the Garfield neighborhood demonstrates what FitPHX can accomplish,” said Councilman Daniel T. Valenzuela. “The school is just two blocks from the park, and this partnership will bridge that short distance. Our goals with Wildcat Night @ Verde Park are to open the kids’ eyes to the potential of a medical career and introduce them to young, bright students who are eager and excited to bring their knowledge to the community.”
Topics medical students will teach with fun activities include how to have a healthy heart and the basics of good nutrition. Students also will tour the medical school on the Phoenix Biomedical Campus later in the year.
“The city of Phoenix continues to show its commitment to the health of its citizens and our college is ready to support that pledge,” said Stuart D. Flynn, MD, dean of the UA College of Medicine – Phoenix. “The Verde Park project is an excellent example of the partnership between the university and the city of Phoenix and a great teaching opportunity for our students to learn about community health.”
UA College of Medicine-Phoenix also is supporting Verde Park by funding a new WalkPHX sign and mileage markers on the park’s quarter-mile loop. WalkPHX launched in May at eight parks – a new initiative encouraging residents to take the healthy step of walking at their neighborhood park. Thanks to the generosity of FitPHX partners, 15 WalkPHX sites will be in place by the end of October. For more on WalkPHX, a list of site partners and a map of locations, visit phoenix.gov/fitphx and click on the “WalkPHX” link.
Wildcat Night @ Verde Park also features a DJ, prizes, activity booths, a healthy fruit snack and a special appearance from Discovery Triangle’s Fresh Express mobile market offering affordable fruit and vegetables.
FitPHX is a citywide initiative, led by Mayor Greg Stanton, Councilman Valenzuela and Olympic Gold Medalist Misty Hyman, with the goal of improving health and wellness in the region and making the Phoenix area one of the healthiest in the nation. For more information on FitPHX and its WalkPHX program, visit phoenix.gov/fitphx.
The University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix admitted its inaugural class of first-year medical students in August 2007 and currently has 301 students training to be physicians. The UA College of Medicine – Phoenix inspires and trains individuals to become exemplary physicians, scientists and leaders who are life-long learners and inquisitive scholars and who will embrace professionalism, innovation and collaboration to optimize health and healthcare for all.