Phoenix Convention Center
As an independent chronicler of all things downtown, DPJ takes a comprehensive approach to covering the urban living movement in Phoenix and, with this Conversation series, spotlighting the people who make it move.
“We’ve had some opportunities come along and we’ve capitalized on them.”
Donald Brandt is Chairman of the Board, President and Chief Executive Officer of Pinnacle West and Arizona Public Service (APS), one of the largest employers in the state and the largest in downtown Phoenix. APS has about 1800 employees in their downtown office on 5th Street, and another 200 or so just south of downtown. Brandt moved from his hometown of St. Louis to Phoenix in 2002. He got involved in downtown in 2007, when Jack Davis, (also of APS), invited him to join the Downtown Phoenix Partnership board. Last October, Brandt then transitioned to Board Chair for the new umbrella organization, Downtown Phoenix, Inc.
We asked him to describe his first impressions of downtown in 2002 and how much has changed since the mid-2000′s. “I didn’t even know there was much of a downtown. I walked around and kind of expected to see a tumbleweed. So much has been developed in the last ten years….You look around and it’s a dramatically different city. I don’t think anyone’s going to expect to see a tumbleweed down here today.”
“So much has been developed in the last ten years….You look around and it’s a dramatically different city. I don’t think anyone’s going to expect to see a tumbleweed down here today.”
How did this change come about? “The business community, the Phoenix city government and other agencies have always had a good working relationship” said Brandt. “We’ve had some opportunities come along and we’ve capitalized on them.” From his perspective, the history of good relationships among these entities has been key. “The ASU campus downtown, no one dreamed of that 10 years ago; the restaurants, the Science Center, the light rail,” he continued. “I think it was a lot of coordination with the city, which had been a great partner all along…cooperation and coordination are important, and capitalizing on opportunities.”
Brandt was part of a team of people including Mayor Greg Stanton, Mike Ebert of RED Development, David Krietor and others, who spent the better part of a year visiting other cities to see what kind of structures they had; to understand what worked and what didn’t; and what was possible in Phoenix and what wasn’t. The cities explored included Brandt’s hometown of St. Louis, Denver and Seattle. Out of this research, “we saw an opportunity (with the creation of Downtown Phoenix Inc.), to acknowledge a broader sense of downtown and bring things together under one umbrella to coordinate and deliver a message,” said Brandt.
Brandt believes that the Downtown Phoenix, Inc. structure will expand relationships among business, government, education entities, community groups, and residents. One of the biggest benefits of this structure is that “DPI will coordinate different entities downtown…political leaders, business leaders and community leaders – just a year into it we’re beginning to speak with one voice. We set the priorities and tackle them, and, frankly, are able to bring more resources to bring to bear.”
He points out that the broadened membership component of DPI is a key part of getting everyone’s voice at the table. “PCA (Phoenix Community Alliance) was mostly the businesses and developer community. In cities that are successful with this umbrella structure, such as Denver, St. Louis, Seattle, the residents and small businesses also have membership for a modest fee and get value from it.” As an affiliate and the membership arm of Downtown Phoenix, Inc., PCA will provide that value.
“…we saw an opportunity (with the creation of Downtown Phoenix Inc.), to acknowledge a broader sense of downtown and bring things together under one umbrella to coordinate and deliver a message.”
Another thrust for DPI will be supporting and coordinating events. Brandt mentioned the success that Denver has had with their events. “Denver’s got more than 10 years on us, but we’re starting. They have one event after another and generate a net profit of about $10 million from their events. We have a few events in downtown now, but hey,” he smiles, “we have a few more months of good outdoor weather than Denver.”
So how do he and his family like to spend their free time downtown? “We come down for all kinds of sports and to eat. There’s plenty of variety down here, even just here in Arizona Center, for example. Particularly after work, we meet friends for dinner and a drink and walk over to a ball game.”
Additionally, APS often has visitors and guests from out of town and Brandt is clearly proud of what downtown has to offer visitors, including great hotels and the world-class Phoenix Convention Center.
We finished by asking Brandt his thoughts looking forward to the Super Bowl activities that will be in downtown next year. “Their (the NFL) downtown presence is going to be huge. There’s plenty of opportunity for businesses downtown to participate and support that.” He went on, “It will be a blast down here. In New York last year, 70-80,000 people went to the game, plus probably 300,000 others came in for the experience. In New York, you didn’t notice 400,000 extra people,” he laughed, “but I think we’ll feel it in downtown Phoenix.”
Earlier this week, the Phoenix Convention Center hosted Imaging USA 2014, the largest annual convention and expo organized by and for professional photographers. More than 8,000 photographers attended, snapping shots of downtown Phoenix as they honed their newly developed skills acquired from the over 100 speeches, presentations and hands-on demonstrations at the fair.
Of the successful event and setting, John Owens, of the Professional Photographers of America, says, “Phoenix has been a tremendous host for Imaging USA 2014. The warm sun, friendly locals and the downtown area in particular has helped enhance the experience for attendees by being so welcoming. And of course, the valley provided a beautiful backdrop for thousands of photographers to immediately practice what they learn.”
DPJ followed those attending IUSA14 and posting pictures on Twitter and Instagram, culling the most representative shots of the downtown scene, and asking our readers to vote for their favorite photos. Below are those that received the most “likes” on Instagram. See more on DPJ’s Facebook page.
DPJ’s Wire series delivers news and information straight from the source without translation.
The Phoenix Convention Center & Venues (PCC&V) invite you to its 40th Anniversary Celebration on Friday, Sept. 28. For four decades, the Phoenix Convention Center and Symphony Hall have brought people together in downtown Phoenix, making a positive impact on the local economy. Since 2000, PCC&V have hosted more than 650 convention events and welcomed nearly two million delegates, providing an economic impact in excess of $2.5 billion dollars to the state and local economy.
WHAT: 40th Anniversary Block Party
WHEN: Friday, Sept. 28, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.
WHERE: 100 N. Third Street (Outdoor block party between Washington & Monroe streets)
On Sept. 28, 1972, the Phoenix Convention Center opened as Phoenix Civic Plaza on six city blocks with a group capacity of 10,000 attendees. Symphony Hall opened the next day and welcomed the Phoenix Symphony as its first resident company. Throughout the years both venues welcomed local and out-of-town visitors to concerts, intimate gatherings and high profile events. Since its recent expansion, PCC&V can accommodate 80% of the convention meetings market. For more information about notable highlights, visit phoenixconventioncenter.com.
The anniversary celebration is free and takes place on Third Street between Washington and Monroe. Don’t miss the live music provided by KSLX radio station 100.7FM, games & activities sponsored by the Downtown Phoenix Partnership, cupcakes compliments of Aventura Catering, giveaways and so much more.
Featured image courtesy of Phoenix Convention Center.
When representatives went to pitch the Valley of the Sun as the 2015 Super Bowl host site this past fall, the playing field was vastly different from when the city hosted the last one in 2008. The site selection process had changed significantly, with the final choice narrowed down to only two cities: Tampa and Phoenix.
But the real game changer for the 49th Super Bowl, according to everyone involved, was that Downtown Phoenix had evolved from a sprawling construction zone to a world-class, truly Super Bowl-worthy destination. Among the changes:
- In the past four years, the size of the Phoenix Convention Center has tripled to more than 900,000 square feet.
- Light rail was completed and quickly became the transportation mode of choice, particularly for those attending downtown sporting events.
- More than 1,500 additional hotel rooms have come on line, with the total now well exceeding the requisite 19,000.
- CityScape was completed and has made its mark with top-notch dining, shopping and entertainment venues.
- And ASU now has a significant downtown presence, with thousands of students, including residents.
“The transformation of Downtown Phoenix was a significant part of our pitch.”
– Mike Kennedy, Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee
“Best Super Bowl Venue in the Country”
“We think we now have the best Super Bowl venue in the country, “ according to Mike Kennedy, who has been chairman of the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee for the past seven years. “The transformation of Downtown Phoenix was a significant part of our pitch.”
“All the team owners that were voting hadn’t seen downtown since 2008 so we did our best to describe it to them,” he said.
They were assisted by sophisticated marketing materials and a killer video, thanks to the efforts of the local marketing and advertising agency E.B. Lane.
“We really made a point of noting all the development – retail, entertainment, restaurants, housing and transportation – that has been finished since 2008,” said Beau Lane, chief executive officer of E.B. Lane, which represents the Super Bowl Host Committee, the Arizona Cardinals and the Greater Phoenix Convention & Visitors Bureau.
“One of the concerns last time, even though it was very successful, was that the events were spread out all over the Greater Phoenix area,” he said.
“This time we see that heartbeat of all Super Bowl activity taking place Downtown. We have the capacity and the facility infrastructure to support it.”
– Beau Lane, E.B. Lane
“This time we see that heartbeat of all Super Bowl activity taking place Downtown. We have the capacity and the facility infrastructure to support it.”
Michael Bidwill Scores as MVP
However, according to Kennedy, the final host decision came down to which owner could gather the most National Football League votes.
Arizona Cardinals President Michael Bidwill touted the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale to the 32 NFL team owners that were gathered in Houston. He also talked about the hotel, resort and tourism infrastructure. And, according to those in attendance, he was particularly persuasive when speaking about what Downtown Phoenix has to offer.
According to those in attendance, [Michael Bidwill] was particularly persuasive when speaking about what Downtown Phoenix has to offer.
Neither Arizona nor Tampa received the requisite 24 of 32 votes the first time around. With the second vote, only a majority was needed.
“It all came down to which owner could gather 17 votes – and that was Michael Bidwill,” Kennedy said.
A Stamp of Approval
Being a Super Bowl host site means a lot of things, not the least of these being an estimated $500 million economic impact to the state. There is also the opportunity to turbo charge the state’s tourism and visibility, bringing thousands of visitors from around the globe.
But for Downtown Phoenix, Super Bowl 2015 will play a unique role, a glamorous debut on the world’s stage.
“When a downtown is at a Super Bowl level, it says something to meeting planners, as well as everyone else,” said Mayor Greg Stanton. “We have a world class facility with our convention center and the capacity for all the media outlets to make Downtown their home.
“Downtown Phoenix is already a great destination,” he added. “This is an extra stamp of approval.”
Agreed Jeff Moloznik, CityScape’s General Manager, “This is affirmation that Downtown has finally arrived, when you can tell a major international event that they will be hosted in Downtown Phoenix and that it is the epicenter of the Super Bowl.
Building on Infrastructure
Moloznik sees CityScape as being the “hub of the wheel” for all NFL festivities. In addition to all the activities that will be slated to take place at CityScape, it will be a central meeting place and clearinghouse for all Super Bowl-related information.
“When a downtown is at a Super Bowl level, it says something to meeting planners, as well as everyone else”
– City of Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton
He noted he will be part of a group flying out to Indianapolis to see how it creates an NFL fan zone and experience. He pointed out that “a lot of infrastructure will be coming on line” in the next few years at CityScape, from temporary and permanent stage structures to large format, 40’ x 20’ screens, scheduled to be installed this year.
Then there is the matter of the estimated $18-$20 million that must be raised over the next few years, which covers the cost of taking care of the clubs, hosting the parties, securing facilities and other expenses. The funds that were raised for Super Bowl 2008 were solicited before the recession hit.
Mayor Stanton, who emphasized that Phoenix will be working in close partnership with its neighboring cities for all aspects of the Super Bowl, noted that Phoenix will have significant direct and indirect expenses, including the costs of security and police officers.
“This is affirmation that Downtown has finally arrived…”
– Jeff Moloznik, RED Development
“I’m sure we will be asked to pick up the phone and make a pitch to some of our large corporate donors,” Stanton said. “We also expect the NFL to be a partner during these difficult economic times.”
Lane said sponsorship packages are already being developed and there is usually a number of events that take place the year before the Super Bowl as well. “Our strategy is to provide significant value so they receive a return for their investment,” he said.
And while Kennedy referred to raising the needed funds as a “daunting task,” it is one which he also believes will reap major returns.
“Short of the Olympics, there is no other sporting event that has the visibility and impact of the Super Bowl,” he said.
Homepage: design by E.B. Lane for Super Bowl bid presentation. All images courtesy of E.B. Lane.
Downtown Phoenix will come alive in celebration and there will be something for everyone who wants to join the birthday party. Here are some of the signature events honoring our great state.
Arizona Best Fest
Saturday, February 11, 12:00 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Sunday, February 12, 12:00 p.m. to 6 p.m.
A FREE street extravaganza takes over the Arizona State Capitol, including mainstage headliners (Gin Blossoms, Michelle Branch, Jerry Riopelle and George Bensen); educational traveling museums cultural villages; a Western town; an historical motorcycle tour; Arizona storytellers theater; Arizona wines and craft beers; Arizona 100 art show; family fun zone and much more.
Centenarian Brunch SOLD OUT
Tuesday, February 14, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Celebrating Arizona people, companies and nonprofit organizations that have turned 100. Hosted by Pat McMahon, and featuring Governor Jan Brewer and other Arizona leaders at the Sheraton Phoenix Downtown Hotel. This event is (literally) a living history of our state.
Fandango! Arizona – the “Gala of a Century”
Tuesday, February 14, 5:30 p.m.
This grand affair in the North Ballroom of the Phoenix Convention Center is the capstone Centennial Signature event. It begins with cocktails and a silent auction, and the proceeds of which will help underwrite Arizona Centennial activity dedicated to education. The evening also will include vast panoramas of Arizona landscapes, videos, and a musical highlight with the Phoenix Symphony playing, for the first time, portions of Ferde Grof’s Grand Canyon Suite. On hand will be a bevy of Arizona leaders and luminaries. Tickets are available at www.AZ100Years.org.